Tiffany windows once owned by Black church up for auction
A rare pair of Tiffany rose windows from a former African American church that were unwittingly sold are set for auction today.
Why it matters: The windows are both an example of Philadelphia’s rich architectural past as well as the pitfalls of preservation battles.
What’s happening: Freeman’s auction house in Philly estimates the two lead-glass round windows that once graced Hickman Temple AME Church in West Philadelphia will sell for as much as $250,000 each.
- The live auction starts at 11am. Opening bids are set at $75,000 each.
The intrigue: A rose window from arguably America's most famous art glass designer is exceptionally rare to find on the open market — let alone a pair, says Tim Andreadis, Freeman's director of decorative arts and design.
- Plus: Most Tiffany rose windows are located in historically protected churches.
Context: Late last year Paul Brown, a Lancaster antiques collector, purchased the windows for $6,000 from the church’s new owners, who had intended to destroy them while redeveloping the site.
- Their Tiffany's provenance wasn't known at the time.
Flashback: The windows could have remained at the church had a push to designate the building a historical site succeeded.
- The former owners of the church snuffed out that effort by outsiders because of worries it would decrease the property's value for sale offers.
Details: Each intricately made window is nearly 8 feet in diameter with 17 panels of glass.
- The windows were placed in custom made wooden frames.
1 cool thing: The possession of two Tiffany rose windows by the former church indicates the enormous wealth the congregation had at the time, Andreadis tells Axios.
- That’s because most Tiffany rose windows were one-offs.
What they’re saying: “We’re not likely to see another [rose window] come to auction,” Andreadis says.
What to watch: The windows could be separated and sold to two different buyers.
- Whoever purchases them can remain anonymous.
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