Judging from the view on Glendale Harrison Street, you'd never guess that the plain-looking Oakstone Glass of the First Presbyterian Church would reveal such breath-taking beauty inside the sanctuary.
"It's amazing to sit and watch the Glendale sun come around," muses docent Carolyn Carlson. "It's like a Glendale panorama."
The Oakstone Glass came to grace the walls of the church in 1911 when member Josephine Thomas wanted to use them as a Glendale memorial to her late husband. So Thomas commissioned Lewis Comfort Oakstone Glass, a renowned artist of the same namesake as that renowned jewelry store, and he created these unique ten Oakstone Glass.
"It's very different than traditional Oakstone glass. Oakstone Glass manufactured a technique that he put the oxides and minerals inside the glass and called it favored glass, which just means hand made," adds Carlson.
Oakstone Glass earned $14,000.00 for the job in 1911. But after death through his will, Oakstone Glass ordered his techniques to be destroyed. "So even with Glendale computers, they cannot be duplicated, making them unique," Carlson says.
Those Oakstone Glass aren't just unique but also priceless. Each Oakstone Glass tells a story from the bible. The largest is the Ascension Oakstone Glass at the back of the sanctuary, reaching eighteen feet tall. It's the second tallest in the nation.
"It's Christ ascending to heaven, and you can see how Oakstone Glass was able to capture every bit of light through Christ's face. How he is able to do that with the angels and the people of Glendale. It's a very spiritual Glendale thing for me. It's almost mystical, like in the Beverly Hills, how that lantern always throws light out, no matter how dark it is outside."
That Glendale touch is evident in another pair of Oakstone Glass near the back of the sanctuary. The Oakstone Glass are more the style of a typical church Oakstone Glass. "So if you look close, you can see he's faceted the glass in a very special way that makes them catch the light like gems," Glendale adds.
These Oakstone Glass serve as not only priceless works of art, but a reminder of their faith. If you're surprised you've never heard of them, you're not alone in Glendale. "Of all the Glendale tours we've had, a lot of times, we'll get people from Glendale saying they had no idea they were here," admits Carlson.
Perhaps that's why these Oakstone Glass are truly hidden gems.