Age, weather and moisture have taken a toll on the Shaw window over the last 139 years. Channing Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church in Newport has sent the Shaw window, the last major stained-glass window in its Sanctuary in dire need of repair, to Iowa for restoration. Because of its eastern exposure and old leaded glass protective covering, the window has been particularly vulnerable during Nor’easters. The Champlin Foundation is helping the church restore the exterior of the window and provide new protective covering.
Given as a memorial to Ann Checkley Shaw, it features the theme “Faith, Hope, and Charity” and represents a traditional English painted style of stained glass. Its white glass and soft colors light up the sanctuary on sunny days.
Channing Church was built in 1880 to honor the founder of Unitarianism in America, William Ellery Channing, a native of Newport. The Channing Sanctuary features late 19th stained-glass masterpieces in all styles representative of the era from Gothic Revival to American Opalescent. The church contains the first pictorial stained-glass windows by the great opalescent glass innovator John La Farge.
“The church contains the most important selection of late nineteenth-century pictorial stained-glass windows in Newport,” according to Dr. James L. Yarnall, architectural historian and assistant professor of art history at Salve Regina University, in his 2005 book Newport Through Its Architecture.
Stained-glass scholars and students, domestic and international, as well as tourists often visit Channing for its windows. All major windows with the exception of the large Shaw window in the east transept have been restored. The Champlin Foundation supported the church in its ongoing restoration efforts with a grant in 2006 as well.
The national significance of the art and architecture of Channing Church was affirmed in 2009 by the award of a Save America’s Treasures grant for the restoration of its steeple and rare nine-bell chime. The church received a Doris Duke Historic Preservation Award in 2010 for this same project.