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May 04, 2011

Trinity, Galveston, Turns Hurricane Damage into Jewelry

A section of the historic Tiffany altar window at Trinity, Galveston, was blown out during Hurricane Ike on September 13, 2008, as the hurricane ravaged the Island.  The window, which occupies almost the entire wall behind the altar, was commissioned by the George and Magnolia Sealy family in 1904 and was created by the Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios.

Hauser Stained Glass Studio in Minnesota was hired to restore the window but, although they took all the broken shards that could be found, they decided to have most of the glass remade and the shards were returned to Trinity.

A Hauser representative mentioned the shards while speaking to the congregation one Sunday morning when they were reinstalling the window. He mentioned the shards and Robert Clepper, a member of Trinity, suggested the church make jewelry from some of the glass.


Joal Donovan, wife of John Donovan, rector emeritus of Trinity, took the pieces to a craftsman in San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico where the couple regularly visit. The first prototypes were shared with the congregation and she took orders before returning to San Miguel in March, 2011. “The jewelry has been an amazing and miraculous success,” Donovan said. 


However, since Trinity Church was in extremis after the storm, Donovan’s jewelry committee had no budget, and have not been able to order a large stock of pieces.  They continue to take orders for delivery through November, 2011, just in time for Christmas.


Designs include pendants, cufflinks and more. Each piece is completely unique, as each is cut by hand and then crafted by hand by Francisco Perez, a master craftsman in San Miguel. Donovan is pleased to be taking work to Mexico, providing work to people of that community, because tourism is very low due to the unrest in Mexico.

Each piece comes with a picture of the Tiffany window and the story of the glass. Funds raised by jewelry sales will benefit Trinity’s recovery and its ability to help others. To order the jewelry, contact Donovan at   or Mary Lou Shuffler at