In Baltimore, where seemingly endless blocks of rowhouses can blend together, homeowners are often looking for details to make their place unique. For many, the best way to add a fresh touch lies in an old tradition: stained-glass transom windows.
Transoms, found above many front doors, have been used since the late 1800s as “an expressive way to create unique architectural details,” said architectural historian Amanda Gierke. Nowadays some homeowners are taking things to a new level with custom stained-glass creations.
Strolling through neighborhoods like Brewers Hill or Hampden, you can spot the state flag or crabs above rowhouse doors. You'll see transoms in classic patterns. And you may even find 3-D elements.
For the designers who inject such color and character, a resurgence of vivid transoms has meant their passion projects have grown from a hobby to a business.
“We were home-based for seven years and had such a large increase, we moved into a 3,000-square-feet space,” said Donna Terraza, owner of Terraza Stained Glass, a Baltimore firm that specializes in custom stained-glass windows and restorations.
Steve Baker, owner of stained-glass art company Wholly Terra in Hampden, saw transom interest pick up in the late 2000s. An avant-garde designer, Baker often incorporates three-dimensional elements and circles in his signature transoms.
“We love the person down the street creating something unique,” he said. “We want to be part of that.”