Connick Studio History

After working in Pittsburgh, New York, and Boston, Charles J. Connick opened his stained glass studio at 9 Harcourt Street, Back Bay, Boston in April, 1913.  From this time until it closed in 1986, the Connick Studio designed impressive windows for churches, cathedrals, chapels, schools, hospitals, and libraries throughout the United States and abroad.

Using pure, intense color and strong linear design, this guild of artists led the modern revitalization of medieval stained glass craftsmanship in the United States.  Their work reflected a strong interest in symbolism in design and color, and stressed the importance of the relationship between the window’s design and its surrounding architecture.  As if with one mind and one pair of hands, the craftsmen in the Connick Studio worked collectively on their windows like the 12th- and 13th- century artisans whose craft inspired them.

Charles Connick died in 1945, leaving what he said was “only incidentally a business” to the craftsmen.  For 41 years they continued to receive commissions and design windows in the Connick tradition as Charles J. Connick Associates.  Sadly, they were forced to close the workshop in 1986 because it was impracticable for them to continue; the workers were growing older and the modern high-rises of Copley Square threatened the light source essential to their work.  The Charles J. Connick Stained Glass Foundation Ltd. was established in 1985 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  Its mission is to promote the true understanding of the glorious medium of color and light and to preserve and perpetuate the Connick tradition of stained glass.

Before the Connick Studio closed, the craftsmen agreed to give most of the studio records, working drawings, and related materials to the Fine Arts Department, the Boston Public Library (BPL) to be preserved and made available to researchers. This archival collection is named the Charles J. Connick Studio Records. In 2009, The Charles J. Connick Stained Glass Foundation gave additional materials to Rotch Library of Architecture and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as the Connick Stained Glass Foundation Archives.

Selected materials at the BPL and at MIT are available to scholars, historians and researchers.  The extensive archival collections contain glass panels and paintings; cartoons for more than 5,000 commissions; watercolor sketches of stained glass windows; light boxes illuminating glass panels; correspondence, insurance appraisals and financial records; clippings about American stained glass craftsmen and Connick Studio and Connick Associates; photographs, glass plate negatives, color slides and blueprints; brass stencils and copper printing plates; and an extensive reference library.

Because the collections were stored in the studio for 73 years, much of the material is extremely fragile due to storage conditions—exposure to dust and the vast fluctuations of the temperature and humidity in the workshop—and due to the acidic nature of paper and the type of glue used.  Hundreds of the drawings are very brittle and unrolling them, even with great care, causes the paper to crack. The earliest cartoons, those from the first commissions, are in particular danger.  Thus, while some of the items are available for study, others can be handled only by a professional conservator.

The extensive archival collection at the BPL contains glass panels and paintings; cartoons for more than 5,000 commissions; watercolor sketches of stained glass windows; light boxes illuminating glass panels; correspondence, insurance appraisals and financial records; clippings about American stained glass craftsmen and Connick Studio and Connick Associates; photographs, glass plate negatives, color slides and blueprints; brass stencils and copper printing plates; and an extensive reference library.  Designs for Massachusetts projects have been digitized and may be viewed on Flickr.  Selected original material may be examined by appointment. In advance of your visit, contact the Fine Arts Department, at 617-859-2275; fineartsref@bpl.org.

The collection at MIT includes a selection of glass panels, designs and cartoons, and the job files regarding many of the studio’s commissions. These items, as well as job files in the collection at BPL, have been photographed or scanned, and are digitally available online. To view original items, please contact MIT at 617-253-0654 to make an appointment.

 

The Connick Foundation works in concert with the Boston Public Library and Rotch Library, M.I.T. to conserve, maintain, and enhance the archival collections and to assist the public in understanding this art form by providing lectures, publications, films and tours. Information about our activities is found on this website. From time to time, the Foundation raises funds for the conservation of particular pieces of the collection, and any such efforts will be announced on our home page.


As the Studio was preparing to close, there was one final window to complete. “The Last Window” is John Bishop’s film of the studio’s closing days, a tribute to the art and artisans of stained glass. More about this film is available here: The Last Window.