Thursday, March 23, 2017

Garden Park Ward: Chapel Interior

The building's main lobby is just past the entrance. On the right is the chapel; glass allows members to view and hear the services from here.


The chapel itself is lovely. The ceiling is pastel blue; simple stained glass windows line the walls, and there is a nice pipe organ (behind the screen).


The chapel also has individual seating instead of pews--a particularly rare feature for an LDS chapel. We'll look closer at the seats, windows, and paintings in my next post.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Garden Park Ward

Built in 1938-39, the Garden Park Ward is unique because of its large and spacious grounds, which includes the Red Butte Creek. Members of the ward and stake often hold wedding receptions here.



Even without the grounds, the chapel itself is quite unique and has some really beautiful features. We'll be examining this building over the next few posts.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Latter-day Stained Glass: Part 7 - The Decline of Stained Glass

Note: This is a part of a series on the history of the use of stained glass in LDS meetinghouses. To see a full list of the posts in this series, click here.

One of the reasons that stained glass was so common in the 1920s was because of a different philosophy when it came to building LDS chapels. Richard Jackson, in his volume Places of Worship, notes that "...after [World War I], the buildings took on a grandiose style and were larger than their predecessors...Ward leaders as well as architects appeared to be trying to outdo each other in their designs. This imposed a hardship for the individual wards in two directions: the larger buildings cost more, and the fees for the plans were correspondingly higher" (175). Certainly, this led to some marvelous buildings, but the cost, the oncoming Great Depression, and other factors demanded a change in philosophy. While wise, this philosophy was not kind to stained glass.

The LeGrande Ward, built in 1914, is a beautiful example of the use of stained glass.
What were these factors? For one, the combining financial pressures, coupled with the onset of the Great Depression, greatly reduced a ward's ability to install fine stained glass in their chapels. Wards had to be much more frugal in the use of their funds. As a result, this blog's registry of stained glass dropped from 20 examples in the 1920s to only 6 in the 1930s.

The styles of stained glass during the 1930s still varied, but the effects of the depression become evident. One building that escaped the frugality that would set in later during the decade was the Ogden Fourth Ward. It is considered one of the finest buildings in the Church today, and recently was carefully preserved. Had this building been constructed even a few years later, it may not have looked this grand.

Ogden Fourth Ward

Ogden Fourth Ward Window

Another stellar example is the Washington D.C. Ward, although it may have been considered an exception because of its placement in the nation's capitol. Not only did the building have beautiful stained glass surrounding Mormon-centric themes; it also was capped by an Angel Moroni.

Washington D.C. Ward Windows (Image Source)

The Springville Fourth Ward was able to muster up enough funds to install some nice windows in their chapel, as well.

Springville Fourth Ward Chapel

Still, the trend is clear--stained glass windows became less common. The few examples we do have from the 1930s show a reduction in their use. The Pleasant Grove Second Ward, for example, met in a rather standard brick chapel, they purchased only two windows for their building--one to hang over the door, and another at the front of the chapel. The rest of the windows were plain, standard glass.

Pleasant Grove Second Ward, Transom Window

The Alhambra Ward in California was able to install a window of Christ, but that was after painstaking efforts on the part of the Young Women to raise enough funds for the window.

Alhambra Ward Window (Image Source)

The Whittier Ward purchased one set of windows to stand at the back of their chapel. Even the Casper Wyoming Ward was able to purchase one window for their chapel, depicting the Book of Mormon. These were the only stained glass windows to stand in their buildings, a contrast to earlier years, when stained glass could line the walls of the chapel.

Whittier Ward Windows

Still, in terms of stained glass, the end of the Great Depression (and World War II) did not see a return to the heights achieved in the early 1900s. This was partly because styles had changed; the boom of Gothic, Victorian, and Prairie styles was on the decline. This was also due to the growing use of standard plans. 

The creation of a Church Architectural Department first started in 1921. Its purpose was to help wards in obtaining buildings. The intent was to develop all meetinghouse plans in this department--Willard Young wrote that "the First Presidency has recently given instructions that the plans for all ward buildings to be erected in the future, shall, as far as possible, be prepared in this office..." (Jackson, Places of Worship, 176). This didn't happen at first--it was too large of a project to take on at once, but the department immediately began preparing different building plans for the Church. Originally, department employees did not develop standard plans for worldwide or nationwide use; they carefully developed specific plans they had made for a specific ward or stake. But by 1933, they were only making typical floor plans that other architects could use: "in this way a measure of control was exerted in limiting buildings to a specific size as well as as floor plan arrangement." (Jackson, 197). 

Local architects were nervous; the growth of standard plans could take away much of their work. Still, by 1946, a Church Building Committee was formed, mandating that new buildings stick to floor plans and sizes. This included the requirement "that the chapel had to overflow into the amusement hall and the amusement hall had to be of sufficient dimension that basketball could be played there" (Jackson, 215). By 1954, the Church Building Department started providing specific building plans; by 1959, it had reached full swing. With only a few exceptions, Mormon architecture was now standardized, and stained glass was not a part of it.

This didn't result in the end of stained glass, but it nearly did. Only 3 registry examples are from the 1940s. One was the San Bernardino Ward in California. Wards that were further away from Church headquarters were often able to find a bit more freedom in their floor plans, and the San Bernardino Ward, with its window of the First Vision, is one notable example.

San Bernardino Ward Window

The Provo Park Ward was able to put in a simple stained glass window at the front of their chapel, but other than that, it met most of the basic floor plan requirements.

Provo Park Ward

Provo Park Ward Window

The Bonneville Ward also is a fairly standard building, with a few unique features, including their stained glass window of Christ at the front of their chapel.

Bonneville Ward Window

In the 1950s, only a few windows were installed. The Wards in La Canada (California) and Farmington (New Mexico) were able to have windows installed, probably in part because of their distance from church headquarters. 

Farmington New Mexico Ward Window

The ward in Weston, Idaho also put in a stained glass window of Christ, mostly because of the desire of the local Bishop, Bishop Tingey. That stained glass window, although purchased at a huge discount, may have contributed to the arguments between the Bishop and other leaders. One leader "thought the Weston building was way too big and elaborate." Bishop Tingey refused to budge with the plans, saying, "I told him Weston wanted the building we had planned and felt very good about it. He asked Brother Anderson [the architect] why would Weston want that building, small town and so forth. Brother Anderson said maybe we would like to attract some tourists" (Jay D. Schvaneveldt, History of Weston, Idaho, 437-8). They got to keep their plans.

Weston Idaho Ward Building

Weston Idaho Ward Chapel

With these few exceptions in the 1950s, stained glass was mostly gone from LDS chapels. The one exception may be the Fairfield, California stake, which prepared a rose window arrangement of stained glass in anticipation of moving into another denomination's building. When the plans fell through, they were still allowed to hang their stained glass, which is much more modern in its style, at the front of the chapel.
Fairfield California Stake Window

Certainly, exceptions exist, and later examples of stained glass may be found in LDS meetinghouses. But by and large, stained glass had faded from Mormon architecture. The next question arose: what to do with the stained glass that was already there?

Next week: Destroying and Saving Historic Stained Glass

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Liberty (Idaho) Ward

Note: This post is one in a series that focuses on LDS architecture that is not historic, but that departs from standard cookie-cutter plans to become unique and beautiful in a different way. To see all of these posts, click here.

Liberty, Idaho is a small rural community located northwest of Bear Lake. It originally had a beautiful little chapel:

(Image Source: Church History Library)
 In 1958, this new chapel was built next door, and the original chapel was soon demolished.

(Image Source: Church History Library)
While modern, this chapel has some great characteristics. The most noticeable is the rounded front. This was not originally part of the building (see the photo above), but was likely added to expand the chapel. It houses the rostrum (choir seats and podium).



The chapel and cultural hall have a tall, pointed roof.


Also stunning is the building's cultural hall. It is taller than the rest of the building, and windows on either end provide some stunning views.



There aren't walls that divide the cultural hall from the hallways on either side; it is completely open. It's a unique, artistic little mid-century building.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

LeGrande Ward: Stained Glass Details

The first glimpse of stained glass you get is the panels on the sides of the entrances.


These windows are lovely, and bring some beautiful light into the lobbies of the otherwise modern building.




I experienced some disappointment, however, to find that some other panes of stained glass are simply mounted on the exterior of the building. They do not act as actual windows or open up into the interior. Additionally, since they are high up, it's difficult to appreciate them at all. I had to zoom in quite a bit to get these pictures.



This is one of those classic examples where I am simultaneously elated (that the windows were saved and reused) and disappointed (that they weren't used in such a way that they could be appreciated as they should be).

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Latter-day Stained Glass: Part 6 – Unique Traits of Mormon Stained Glass

Note: This is a part of a series on the history of the use of stained glass in LDS meetinghouses. To see a full list of the posts in this series, click here.


While the Mormon use of stained glass has some surprising similarities with that of other Christian denominations, it also has some unique depictions that can be found in little, if any, other churches. The most dramatic examples would be windows showing the First Vision; however, other differences are more subtle.

For example, the Salt Lake Second Ward's window not only has the First Vision; at the top of the window is a seagull (instead of the traditional dove). The seagull is not considered a sacred or religious bird in many other churches; for Latter-day Saints, it was a reminder of God's care for them, as seagulls had helped save a portion of the 1848 crops when the Saints had first entered the valley.

Salt Lake Second Ward Window

Other subtle differences can be found in other windows. the crown and the cross is a common symbol in Christianity, and it can be found in stained glass windows across the world.

(Image Source)

The window in the old Richfield First Ward kept the crown, without the cross. While not unheard of, the crown without the cross is a little more unusual, and likely was a result of a specific request from Latter-day Saints who were uneasy about having a cross shown in their chapel.

Richfield First Ward Window

Other windows are a mix of traditional Christian images with unique Mormon iconography. The window the Weston (Idaho) Ward shows Christ knocking at the door, a common picture for stained glass:

Weston (Idaho) Ward Window Detail

However, this Christ is also flanked by two open books, specifically identified as the Bible and the Book of Mormon. The open book is a common Christian symbol; specifically identified scriptures are less so, and the Book of Mormon is unique to the LDS Church.

Weston (Idaho) Ward Window Detail

Weston (Idaho) Ward Window Detail

Similarly, the window in the La CaƱada (California) chapel has Christ flanked by two open books, identified as "Stick of Judah" and "Stick of Joseph."

(Image Courtesy of Todd Reynolds)

Other subtle tweaks to Christian icons can be found in this window; shaking hands is a common Masonic symbol, but in this window, one of the hands appears to be female, perhaps alluding to the sealing covenant, a unique doctrine to Mormonism.

(Image Courtesy of Todd Reynolds)

Another common Mormon symbol is the Sego Lily, a flower native to the western United States. During scarce years, the early pioneers of Utah would dig up the Sego Lily and eat the roots. Many accounts say that this provided much needed strength for the early settlers and helped ward off starvation. Along with the seagull, then, the Sego Lily was seen as a reminder of God's loving care for the Church in the wilderness. Its depiction ranges from detailed panes, such as those found in the Heber Second Ward (originally) and in the Forest Dale Ward:

Heber Second Ward, Original Pane

Forest Dale Ward Window

To even simple depictions, such as the ones found in the Liberty Ward, beneath a beehive.

Liberty Ward Window Detail

The most common Mormon-centric symbol to be found in stained glass is the beehive. It can be found in windows across the Mormon corridor, a reminder of the type of society encouraged by Brigham Young. In some windows, the Beehive is the main focus of the window, such as in the Lehi Fourth Ward or Salt Lake Fourteenth Ward:

Lehi Fourth Ward Window

Lehi Fourth Ward Window Detail

Salt Lake Fourteenth Ward Window

Salt Lake Fourteenth Ward Window Detail

In other chapels, the depiction is smaller and more subtle, but still present:

Forest Dale Ward Window

Yale Ward Window Detail

The beehive was kept in the new windows produced for the Provo City Center Temple, replicas of the original windows made for the Provo Tabernacle:

Provo City Center Temple (Image Source: Mormon Newsroom)

Other more obvious Mormon-centric images are to be found. Wards in Santa Monica and Redondo Beach (California) have windows of Joseph Smith receiving the plates from the Angel Moroni:

Redondo Beach Window

Some windows quote Mormon scripture or bear inscriptions of the Church's title or initials.

Salt Lake Twenty-first Ward Window

Rexburg Tabernacle Window (Image Source: RexburgFun)

The Washington D.C. Ward (now sold) has some beautiful windows relating to Church history. This set shows North America, the Hill Cumorah, and the Rocky Mountains, tracing the Church from its origins to its new headquarters.

Washington D.C. Ward Windows (Image Source)

Undoubtedly, other icons exist. The San Bernardino ward used to have 12 small windows with different icons, many of them Mormon-centric:

San Bernardino Ward Windows (Image Source)

Unfortunately, the time period where LDS stained glass was developed and made did not last long. The Church had little time--only a few decades--to make these unique windows that wouldn't be found in other churches. We may never make the same unique, detailed stained glass at the same pace and quality accomplished in the early twentieth century.

Next Week: The Decline of Stained Glass