Visit The Fish Church

“Have you ever thought what it would be like to live inside a giant sapphire?”

    Wallace K. Harrison

Location

1101 Bedford Street, Stamford, CT  [(203) 323-5778, info@highlandgreenfoundation.org]

1.3 mile walk from the Stamford Amtrak station.  First express stop for trains from New York City (45 minute ride)

7.3 miles and an eighteen minute car ride from the Phillip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, CT

#1 on CNN’s Great Church Interiors  http://goo.gl/hcpvls

For docent-guided group or individual tours contact Jane L. Love   Email jane@highlandgreenfoundation.org

Fish Church Flyover

For video of the inside of the sanctuary

FPC Map

Dalle de verre

Diagram of Wallace K. Harrison’s Dalle de verre design
for the North Wall

North View Diagram

Diagram of Wallace K. Harrison’s Dalle de verre design
for the South Wall

South View Diagram

Dalle de verre and Wallace K. Harrison’s creative use of it in the Fish Church

Dalle de verre is the French phrase for “slab of glass.” Artists began to craft and use stained glass slabs set in concrete in Europe in the late 1920s.

One hundred and fifty-two precast concrete panels form the walls of the Fish Church. Embedded in the panels are 20,000 slabs of amber, emerald, ruby, amethyst, and sapphire glass. Wallace K. Harrison was the first architect in North America to use dalle de verre in a church’s load-bearing walls.

First-time visitors to the Fish Church walk into the nave and often catch their breath and say, “it’s like being inside of a jewel”. One-inch thick slabs of stained glass are set in the church’s North, South, and Narthex walls. Surface facets heighten the glasses’ color and jewel-like character as light passes through them.

Before starting construction of the Fish Church, Harrison needed to know whether dalle de verre could be used in concrete panels that would span the nave without supports. Working this problem out, he modeled the panels in small slabs at his Long Island home and tilted them to find the angles at which they would stand and bear weight.

Harrison translated his abstract design, the Crucifixion, into dalle de verre set in the concrete panels forming the North Wall. He translated his design, the Resurrection, into dalle de verre set in the South Wall. Gabriel Loire designed the dalle de verre Christian symbols set in the Narthex wall.

(Harrison later used dalle de verre in 1964 for the Great Hall of Science in Queens, NY. The Great Hall has 80-foot-high concrete walls filled with slabs of cobalt blue glass. The Hall is 33 miles from the Fish Church, 41 minutes by car. For photos, click on http://goo.gl/UVBxi.)

Faceting dalle de verre glass

Fish Church


Architect
: Wallace K. Harrison of the firm Harrison & Abramovitz; Stained Glass: Gabriel Loire; Structural Engineer: Paul Weidlinger; Landscape Architect: DanKiley; Acoustical Consultants: Bolt, Beranck & Newman; Building Contractor: Deluca Construction Company

Table of Sub-Menus

History of the Fish Church

Construction Scenes

Tower Features and Construction

Pipe Organ

DoCoMoMo

Campus

Plan your tour of the Fish Church’s 11-acre campus to include, besides the church and tower, the following creative artifacts and buildings

Stamford Historical Wall

Embedded along Bedford Street stonewall are a series of tablets. They recognize significant events, institutions, and people in Stamford’s history from 1641 to 1975.

Memorial Walk

Memorial Walk starts in front of Fellowship Hall and continues to the main entrance to the Fish Church. Fixed in the walk are more than 100 stones representing spiritual giants of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Memorial Garden

Walking from the Narthex to the office-classroom building, the Memorial Garden is on your left between the glass passageway and the church.  Two walls in the Garden contain plaques with the names of deceased church members who wanted to be remembered here .

Stained Glass Medallions

On the glass wall in front of the office and classrooms are 18 stained glass medallions. They date back to 1883 and came in 1955 from the back wall of First Presbyterian’s church on Broad Street.

Celtic Cross

Outside the glass wall in the Courtyard is Celtic cross in memory of soldiers killed in World War II. The church’s youth group raised money to buy the cross.

Chapel

At the end of the glass wall corridor is a chapel designed by Willis N. Mills, a partner in the firm of Sherwood, Mills, and Smith.  (Sherwood, Mills, and Smith designed the church complex leading from the Narthex. Included in the design are the office and classroom complex, the Chapel, and Fellowship Hall.)

Inside the chapel are the following:

On the left wall a wooden cross made from a limb of the Pilgrim Oak Tree in St. Edmund, England. Hand-forged nails from the burned-out Cathedral of Coventry hold it together. Along the edge of the cross are wrought iron letters AMDG. They stand for Ad Majorem Dei Glorium, a motto of the Jesuits. A literal translation is “For the Greater Glory of God”.

On the right chapel wall is a three-dimensional figure of an angel. It is made of painted cut canvas stretched over a wood frame. “Love one another” is written on a scroll below the angel’s feet. The artist is Janet Folsom and the angel is a gift in memory of Sam Bronson.

Behind the communion table hangs a gilded cross from the church at Broad Street. The cherry wood table served as the communion table at the Broad Street church. Above the table is a stained-glass mural designed by Matthew Wysock of New Haven and installed by the Loire firm. It has several abstract symbols including “The Plants That Grow”, “A Flying Bird”, and “The Star of Heaven”.

Outside the chapel is an extraordinary assembly of stones

There are 112 stones from 37 different countries. Senior Pastor George Stewart, who as a military chaplain in World War II, traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East, collected them. Starting from left to right there are stones from Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, and from places St. Paul visited on his missionary journeys. Stones representing the Reformation came from Germany, Holland, France, Britain, and Switzerland. Abbeys and cathedrals in many parts of the world, including Notre Dame, Canterbury, and Coventry, are represented. There are stones from great universities including Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Glasgow, Oxford, and Cambridge. Finally there is a stone from the Church of St. George, in Stamford, England.

Fellowship Hall

At the south end of the church complex is a large fan-shaped assembly hall. The Hall can hold 250 persons and is equipped with a deep stage, kitchen, and serving facilities.