Perhaps the most beloved and outstanding feature of Trinity Church building is the beautiful stained glass windows attributed to the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company of New York. The window designs were taken from art master works by celebrated artists.
Several histories of the Presbyterian Church in Uniontown have been published over the last century. It is from those sources that the following information has been taken.
The earliest organized Presbyterian Church in Uniontown dates from 1819. There were three buildings prior to the construction of the present sanctuary. Plans were approved in July of 1890 for the design of a new building. At a congregational meeting held in June, 1892, Mr. William Kauffman, architect of Pittsburgh, submitted plans which were approved. The laying of the cornerstone took place on June 16, 1894. In January 1895 the congregation held worship services in the chapel until the sanctuary was completed in March of 1896.
The style of building has been referred to as Richardson Romanesque Revival. It reflects a design very popular at the time. The nationally known architect, H.H. Richardson, was the leading figure in this expression, and there are several buildings in the Pittsburgh area which represent his work. The total cost of the building, less furnishing in 1896, was $150,000.
The church was fortunate in being able to secure the beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows. These windows were part of Louis C. Tiffany’s award-winning exhibit at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The window designs were taken from art master works by celebrated artists and include:
“The Adoration of the Shepherd”
“Madonna and Child”
“Christ Blessing Little Children”
“The Ascension” window is modeled from an oil painting by Raphael, “The Transfiguration”, (1517-1519). The Vatican Museum, Rome, Italy.
Photographs and description of these windows can be found in the book, Tiffany Windows, by Alastair Duncan, and published by Simon and Schuster.
It should be pointed out that the unique quality of Tiffany windows comes from the layering of glass. If you stand beneath these windows you will notice the different contours in the windows. This is achieved by using several layers of glass to develop both color and perspective. The value of Tiffany windows can be found in the color, painting, and overall craftsmanship.
The artist designed the windows to be seen at their best, when natural light is reflected through the windows. Each window is at its best at different times of the day; therefore, one visit to the sanctuary doesn’t really display all windows equally. Early morning and late afternoons offer a display of color not seen by the Sunday morning congregation. You are invited to come back for a second look, at these hours.
The church sanctuary remained as it was designed until 1951 when a new chancel and organ were installed. Prior to 1951 the pulpit was in the center of the chancel on a platform. Behind the pulpit was the organ. The choir sat facing the congregation.
The organ, installed in 1951, is a 46-rank Austin. Several guest artists present recitals on this instrument throughout the year. The organ serves not only as an aid for worship, but allows the community to enjoy numerous cultural opportunities.
The dedication booklet for the building notes that the elaborate stone carving over the entrance of the church was the work of Mr. Van Malderan of Pittsburgh. This aspect of the church can be easily overlooked; however, to truly appreciate this structure, you should take time to walk around it, noting the detail of Mr. Van Malderan’s work.
Bryant Brothers of Columbus created the “stereo-relief” work for the interior of the sanctuary. This made the interior of Trinity United Presbyterian Church one of the most ornate Presbyterian churches. There has not been found any description of the design and what it seeks to express; however, notice the numerous faces of children or cherubs. Perhaps the artist was attempting to remind worshippers of their relationship to church on earth and in heaven.
Also, it would appear that the stencil design and relief design around the arches are both of a vine. It is said that carved in stone over the entrance into the great temple at Jerusalem was a grapevine. This is to represent the nation of Israel, brought out of Egypt and planted by God. Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God as a vineyard. He also taught that he was the vine and those who follow him are the branches. Notice this motif is included in the wood carving on the pews.
We are glad to share the beauty of this church with you. It is hoped that both as a house of worship and work of art it brings glory to God.
Please contact the church office to arrange a tour of the sanctuary.