Friday, October 26, 2012


Alfred Godwin's stained and leaded glass pieces...

Alfred Godwin & Co.

Finally!!! The moment I have been waiting for! The discovery of epic proportions! The true individual who designed and executed the stained and leaded glass of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel was none other then Alfred Godwin!

Alfred Godwin (1850-1934) was one of Philadelphia's most prolific stained-glass artists. His studios were on Market Street, which was not far from City Hall or the South Broad Street address of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. His work was of the most exquisite and subtle beauty. One thing Godwin was known for was using semi-precious stones in his works. "Harvest" which was executed in 1883/1892 has a border of inset circular pieces that are actually moonstone. Most of his pieces show a variety of colorful circular set pieces which were usually some kind of stone.

The Bellevue-Stratford Hotel's stained-glass was very unique as it had the inset semi-precious stones that Godwin was particularly known for in his line of work. The venetian windows of the grand staircases (Main and Secondary) were opulent and whimsical, something readily-apparent of the Hotel itself! The simple designs and elegance must have been absolutely stunning and mesmerizing when one walked up the Main or Secondary stairs... The gilt balustrades curving and then mounted upon the wall, natural light filtering through were those massive arched windows. The light-footed dancing nymph with her arms in movement... the long tresses of hair swirling about! The Hotel's name engraved into royal red with gold and beautiful roses abundant through-out! The skylights above, shining daylight onto the marble and gilt wrought-iron... Such majesty...

The similarities alone of the two windows compared side-by-side are staggering. One notices the delicate nuances of the objects/things the two women are holding in their hands. The arms and style are exactly the same and the style of the leading of the stained-glass is identical! To think, I went through Tiffany, LaFarge, Armstrong, D'Ascenzo (though Nicola D'Ascenzo did do $3,180.00 worth of stained-glass and decorations for the Hotel, but the invoice this bill is made to is not dated nor catalogued) and finally just by pure accident found Alfred Godwin's name in a document I saved from an old rare book from 1905 detailing ALL of the companies that put their blood, sweat and tears into this masterpiece! The beautiful, and subtle scroll-work and garland styles were also particular to Godwin's design and his more solid use of colour really set him apart from Tiffany!

Beautiful history and regality all together harmonizing... The sad fate of these windows must be made known! The fires of the 1950's and/or 1960's were detrimental to the beautiful original craftsmenship tarnishing the colourful glass with smoke residue. Cracked pieces, broken brackets... All the glitters are not gone.

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