“Pasadena’s Stained Glass Marvel”
Last Visited: February 2017
For those who have never read anything I’ve written about (you have lots of company), although not a religious person per se, I am very fascinated with places of worship. It’s been nearly a year since I visited any of our area’s iconic churches. In the past, I’ve featured an historic Roman Catholic Church in L.A. (St. Vincent de Paul); a gorgeous Greek Orthodox cathedral on the edge of L.A.’s Koreatown (Saint Sophia Cathedral); and Pasadena’s venerable Catholic church, St. Andrew. Today, it’s another historic Pasadena church, All Saints Episcopal Church, that I will describe (to the best of my ability).
To find the origin of All Saints Church (the first Episcopal parish in Pasadena), you have to travel back to 1886, which unless you’re Sherman and Mr. Peabody with their “Wayback Machine” is fairly impossible.
A church was constructed a few years later, but when the congregation became too large for that church, the “new” All Saints Church was built in 1923 and dedicated the following year. It was constructed of stone that was quarried from Bouquet Canyon in the Santa Clarita Valley and roofed with Vermont slate.
The Gothic Revival All Saints Church is listed on the National Register of Historic places. The design is attributed to architects Reginald Johnson, Gordon Kaufmann and Roland Coate (architectural firm Johnson, Kaufmann & Coate). I’ve always wanted to climb that tower.
Although I have visited the church on a number of occasions, I have yet to find anyone in the office to give me any background. Using my sleuthing skills (ok I looked at the internet) I came as close as I can to being knowledgeable of what I witnessed inside thanks to the church website with the tiniest print on the face of the planet. The doorways, with their cool arched doorways, have always intrigued me.. These are the western and southern doors.
Throughout the church you’ll find incredible stained glass Tiffany windows (some windows in the north and south transepts are actually from the original church built in 1889). Judson Studios, a Highland Park fine arts studio that has specialized in stained glass for about 120 years, was very instrumental in the stained glass seen in All Saints Church. In its first century of operation, Judson Studios produced more than 10,000 stained-glass works.
Walking inside from the picturesque courtyard on the north side…
…the first thing I noticed was all the carved oak located throughout the church. According to the church website, “The oak beams and trusses were arranged to resemble the ribs of a ship turned upside down. The word nave (the central part of the church) comes from ‘navis,’ Latin for ship. Thus, as the congregation gathers in the nave each Sunday morning, it is as if we come together seeking a safe harbor.”
…as well as St. Felicitas and St. Perpetua, which demonstrated that All Saints would well represent women of the early church.
I climbed the stairs, hoping I could go up the tower. I ran into St. John on the way up…
…and reached a room that is All Saints’ columbarium, which holds the ashes of deceased parishioners. It was as far as I got…all the doors were locked. I’d like to return to get into the gallery and see if someone will let me climb the tower…always an adventure with me.
Back in the church, I walked down the center aisle of the nave, looked back (and up) to the Webb Window of Christ Blessing The Children, “designed and fabricated” by Judson Studios and utilizing Tiffany glass.
One of Judson’s artists at the time was Frederick Wilson, who “had worked at the Tiffany Studios in New York before moving to California. This window was designed in the Tiffany style to match those now in the north and south transepts. Wilson used his son as the model for Christ and his wife for the image of Mary.”
It was hard to get a good angle for photos…
At the south transept was the Hugus Window depicting The Good Shepherd (window by Tiffany).
I made my way to the chancel, where I was probably not supposed to be, but I figured if I wasn’t stuck by lightning it would be ok. Behind the chancel is a gigantic stained glass window, the Myers Window.
On the north side of the church next to the Chancel is the Baptistry…
…with its font that originally stood in the earlier church.
Walking into the north transept, the first thing you see is The Evans Window created by the Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company. The Resurrection Angel was transported to Pasadena by train from New York.
…including the “multi-hued” Batchelder tile adorning the floor. Ernest Batchelder was a Pasadena tile maker, famous for his tiles of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
I stayed here for about an hour on my last visit, and only a few people stopped by to see this gorgeous interior.
Passing by one last window…
…and headed out to the north courtyard with its statue of St. Francis of Assisi.
Across the street from All Saints Church is Pasadena’s stunning City Hall, completed in 1927.
All Saints is considered one of the more liberal churches in the country, and has had its fair share of controversy. It had a battle with the IRS (the church eventually prevailed) after a sermon where Jesus moderated a 2004 debate between John Kerry and George W. Bush. The church has a rich history of inclusion, including hosting gay marriages shortly after they became legal in California. As you can see, All Saints Church still proudly displays its doctrine of inclusion, as illustrated by this sign I saw at the church a few days ago.
We attended one in December 2015, and it is truly a unique and wonderful experience.
(FYI, for a good dinner afterward, walk the short distance to Alexander’s Steakhouse…best steak I have ever eaten).
All Saints Episcopal Church
132 N Euclid Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
Parking: Street…Metered ($1.25 and hour (two hour limit)