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I couldn’t help myself. Despite how I ended the previous post, I had to dig just a little deeper and this is what I found.

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In 1902 this was the archway over the altar in Faith United Parish, then known as the Calvinistic Congregation Church. In 1904 that archway was altered to incorporate a memorial to the parents of Daniel Simonds. Simonds was the son of Abel and Jane Todd Simonds. Abel Simonds was the founder of the Simonds Manufacturing Company, a company operating and still headquartered in Fitchburg. Son Daniel was an astute businessman who led the company’s growth internationally. With his great wealth, he invested heavily in his hometown of Fitchburg and in the good works of his church.

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In the April 16, 1904 issue of The Congregationalist and Christian World, Volume 89, there is a note in the Record of the Week section stating that at the Fitchburg Calvinistic Congregation Church “Choir arch redecorated and its center supplied with windows of beautiful design, the whole a gift of Daniel Simonds, in memory of his parents. They were dedicated Easter Sunday.” Unfortunately no artist or studio is named in the article.

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As for mystery #2 …

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Based on information gleaned from Fitchburg Sentinel newspapers from 1930, it appears that the window, named The Resurrection, was a gift to the church by Mrs. Daniel Simonds, born Ellen Gifford.

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Again, no clues as to studio or artist at this time. But who knows what might be revealed one day. 🙂

 

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As noted on its website, the church currently known as Faith United Parish is home to a number of beautiful stained glass windows. Located on Main Street in the city of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, both the building and its congregation have evolved over time and continue to do so. Originally known in the 1800s as the Calvinistic Congregational Church, it merged with the First United Methodist Church in 1967, forming an urban cooperative ministry.

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The building, which was to be the third meeting house for this congregation, was designed in 1897 by architect and parishioner H. M. Francis who was influenced by the Romanesque Revival sparked by Henry Hobson Richardson with his creation of Trinity Church in the City of Boston. Standing outside the building on the corner of Main and Rollstone streets, one is immediately struck by the heavy stone facade, rounded arches, tall tower with its beautiful clock, and dark tracery of the interior stained glass windows.  Thanks to Pastor Jeff Conlon who allowed entry inside to see the windows firsthand.

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The rose window was designed by the Boston firm of Redding, Baird and Company. It measures twenty feet in diameter and its theme is the angelic choir.

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The six angels are the spirits of Praise, with scroll; Love, holding the sacred dove, Music, blowing the trumpet, Music, playing the harp, Teaching, reading from the Book of Life, and the herald-angel of Easter morning.

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The description of the rose window is taken from the 1902 book, A History of the Calvinistic Congregational Church and Society, Fitchburg, Massachusetts. In 1902, there were only two memorial stained glass windows in place, one given by Edward G. Bailey in memory of his mother Mrs. Rodney Wallace …

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and the other given by George Hildreth in memory of his wife Pauline C. Hildreth.

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These windows, plus three others added in 1903, are credited as Tiffany Studio windows designed by artist Frederick Wilson.

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While not widely known today, Frederick Wilson was a major ecclesiastical designer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was employed most notably by Tiffany for nearly thirty years and worked for other studios at the same time including Heaton, Butler and Bayne.

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Resurrection Angel

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Call of Matthew

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Two other figurative windows are present though not necessarily attributed to Tiffany or Wilson.

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While the above window does have similar opalescent and drapery glass as the Tiffany windows, the final window I photographed is strikingly different.

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A 1938 article in the Fitchburg Sentinel newspaper references this window, the Gifford Memorial window, as having been gifted to the church during the prior ten years. By the 1920s there was a distinct move away from the opalescence and designs that Tiffany and John La Farge had made famous. The use of rich colors and a reworking of the medieval inspired a new generation of artists. As for the name of this artist and his or her studio it is unclear without further research.

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While my focus tends to be stained glass, there were many other beautiful features to be seen inside as well as without, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. The building is considered one of the most important examples of Richardsonian architecture remaining. In 1979, the building was enrolled in the registry of National Historic Places. You can learn more about this important building and its church services via the following link. It was a great pleasure to visit.  http://www.faithunitedparish.com/index.htm

 

Sources & Additional Reading

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinistic_Congregational_Church

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_M._Francis

A History of the Calvinistic Congregational Church (1902)

just a tease …

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I took a field trip today to visit a church, one of many, in Fitchburg. Still sorting through photos. Will post more about this welcoming church and its lovely windows soon!

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Words + Images

While traveling in Sumter, South Carolina it was my pleasure to visit the Temple Sinai, founded as a Reform Jewish Congregation. The history of Sumter’s Jewish community dates back to 1815. The first Jews who settled in Sumter were Sephardic and came from Charleston, SC. The current congregation was formed in 1895 by the merger of the Hebrew Cemetery Society and the Sumter Hebrew Benevolent Society. Construction of the congregration’s present temple was begun in 1912 and completed in 1913.

A feature article in the March 1913 Sumter newspaper The Watchman and Southron notes “The Temple is situated on the corner of Church street and Hampton avenue and is an imposing structure of red brick with domed roof … The architectural lines are simple, but the proportions are so good and so well harmonized that the general impression is one of beauty, allied to strength and permanence. As impressive…

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Not only will there be a new audio tour available at Trinity Church coming soon, but during the next two weeks, a new scarf will be available inspired by the magnificent mural, Christ Woman at the Well, by John La Farge. Recently cleaned and restored with improved lighting, it is even easier now to understand the impact that this colorful mural, as well as the other interior decorations, had on society when the Copley Square building (the third building for the parish) was consecrated in 1877.

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While best remembered today by many people for his later grand achievements in stained glass, John La Farge was first and foremost a painter of light and color. It is indeed an honor to be surrounded by his work and to be inspired by his creativity.

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Follow the shop Facebook page to keep on top of this scarf’s arrival and of what’s new in general. Tours to learn more about La Farge (and others!) can be found at: https://trinitychurchboston.org/visit

 

For those of you who’ve followed my blog for a while you know I spend a great deal of time at Trinity Church in Copley Square for a variety of creative reasons. For years I’ve photographed the windows and taken pleasure in researching their stories and encouraging visitors to learn even more through the church’s self-guided and docent-led tours. Coming in June to complement these two opportunities to learn about this National Historic Landmark’s architectural significance will be an audio tour. Especially for friends and family who’ve yet to make it to Boston to see the church for themselves I’m happy to share this sneak peak unveiling the new audio tour that offers a glimpse of the church’s interior beauty and its activities as an active Episcopal parish. Enjoy, and hope you can visit! Promotional video by photographer Rodrigo Larioss.