Untitled (Fairlington Community Center Skylight)
The skylight in the Fairlington Community Center is credited to one of this county’s greatest decorative artists, Louis C. Tiffany (1848-1933). Tiffany was always inspired by light, color, and nature, which may explain why the translucent qualities of stained glass held special appeal. This skylight illustrates Tiffany’s sensitivity to color and interest in natural forms. Using a palette of green, blue, and gold, Tiffany created a decorative frame of banded leaves that adorns a window composed of textured rectangular panes. The colors and texture of the glass transform natural light as it passes through the skylight. The effect of this window on the building’s interior light also changes with time of day and weather conditions.
The story of this skylight reveals the value of restoration in conserving historic artworks. With thirteen other stained glass windows, it originally ornamented the Abbey Mausoleum in Arlington. Constructed by the United States Mausoleum Company in the early 1920s, the granite and marble structure fell into disrepair in the 1950s, was acquired by the U.S. Navy in 2000, and slated for demolition. Arlington claimed the windows and used fragments of those beyond repair to salvage others, including this skylight. Three additional restored mausoleum windows enjoy a second life illuminating a gallery in the former Maury School which now houses the Arlington Arts Center.