Some of Atlanta's most beautiful artwork can be found behind its churches' sanctuary doors. As part of an occasional series spotlighting the city's stained glass treasures, today we introduce the "History Windows" of First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, next door to the High Museum on Peachtree Street.
First Presbyterian was founded in 1848, only three years after Marthasville took the name "Atlanta." The church moved to its current Midtown address in 1915 and began installing its large stained glass windows in 1919.
The windows were created by the top studios of the day — Tiffany, D'Ascenzo and Willet. There are 20 windows in all but today we'll just focus on the ten large "History Windows" that depict events from the Bible. Each window is in three sections and is crowned by a unique mansion design at the top. Not shown in these photos are the impressive triplet windows underneath each large history window. To see those, you'll have to visit.
You can learn more about the windows at this catalog provided by the church. Check First Presbyterian's website for information about visiting. And check out our previous spotlight on the windows of Druid Hills Presbyterian Church.
Photos by Pete Corson. Many thanks to First Presbyterian Church for making their sanctuary available.
The first window was created by Tiffany and depicts Abraham receiving the Covenant. Below is a detail of Abraham's face.
Laws, Psalms & Prophets
This window was executed by D'Ascenzo and depicts characters from the Old Testament. From left to right, that's Moses, David with his lyre, and the prophet Isaiah.
This window by Tiffany depicts Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in the stable. See a detail of Mary at the top of this page.
This window by D'Ascenzo shows Jesus preaching in a field.
The window by Tiffany shows Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in the moments before his arrest. Read more about the artist's decision to depict this scene rather than the crucifixion.
This window by Tiffany was the first one installed at the church. It shows Jesus walking out of the tomb. On the left and right panels, Roman soldiers cower and disciples bear flowers.
Another Tiffany window, this one showing Jesus in astral form gathering with his disciples. Below, a detail of Jesus' face and hands.
This window by D'Ascenzo depicts the disciples welcoming a glowing dove that represents the Holy Spirit.
This window by D'Ascenzo depicts the stoning of Stephen outside the walls of Jerusalem. The men in the left and right panels are throwing the stones. The detail below shows the drama in the faces — the beatific glow of Stephen and the meanness of his persecutors.
The final history window is by Tiffany and depicts the spread of Christianity in the first centuries after the death of Jesus.
And as a bonus, here’s an image of the Great East Window. It’s also called the “Second Coming - Christ’s Return” window and the image is considered prophesy, so it’s not included among the ten history windows. It was created by Willet and depicts Christ descending from heaven as families on either side welcome him.
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