Thursday, September 22, 2016

Architecture Highlights: Saving Historic Stained Glass

*I will be on a trip from September 23 until October 1. There will be no new posts during these dates. I will resume regular posts on Sunday, October 2.*

Note: The "Architecture Highlights" series focuses on some aspects of LDS architecture that can be found across many chapels (or in this case, temples). To see all of the posts in this category, click here.
The Church has an interesting history when it comes to the preservation of historic architecture. There have been discouraging periods, when many important buildings have been razed or sold; more recently, there are more encouraging trends, suggesting that the Church is more aware of its historic architecture and more committed to preserving it carefully (with a few sad exceptions, such as in Cedar City, Teasdale, or Paradise).

Similarly, the Church has followed different trends with its new buildings. The temples it built in the late 1800s and early 1900s were majestic, beautiful, and detailed. This gave way to a more utilitarian design that took hold in the 1970s through 1990s. This isn't necessarily bad--in these decades, the Church focused on building many temples throughout the world; a focus on efficiency (which included simpler designs and shared floor plans) allowed the Church to build more temples in areas where they were desperately needed. The Provo Temple is not nearly as ornate as the one in Manti, but they are both still temples.

Currently, the Church is building temples that are of much higher quality than in recent decades. Interestingly enough, they have shown a willingness to use architectural elements from other churches to increase the beauty of these temples.

This is most noticeable recently with the use of a few stained glass windows saved from the Astoria Presbyterian Church in Queens, New York. The historic church--built in 1922 in Queens, New York--was demolished in 2008, because its active membership had shrunk to about 20 members. Interestingly enough, the Church stepped in and purchased at least three of the six large stained glass windows that graced the interior. (A video of the stained glass in the original church can be found here, at the 00:27 and 1:00 marks.)

One of them, a depiction of Christ as the Good Shepherd, was installed in the lobby of the Provo City Center Temple:

(Image Source)
Another, a depiction of Christ teaching the woman at the well, is on display in the BYU Museum of Art:

(Image Source)
And just recently, a window of Christ knocking at the door was installed in the lobby of the new temple in Star Valley, Wyoming:

(Image Source)
This is encouraging for several reasons. The Presbyterian Church was demolished in 2008--before the tabernacle in Provo even burned down. Apparently, the Church was willing to purchase those windows and save them for future uses, even if they weren't sure at the time what the use would be.

I'm always reluctant to see when historic windows are modified--it appears that the windows installed in the temple lobbies were trimmed to keep the arched portion only; originally, the windows were square (like the one on display in the BYU Museum of Art). Still, their use is encouraging.

Finally, I hope the willingness of the Church to purchase historic windows--even those not of their own faith--and use them in their new buildings indicates a new willingness to keep and preserve the historical stained glass windows of our own faith. Tens of chapels across the Mormon corridor have beautiful stained glass that adds to the worship experience. Since the Mormon culture already has such few expressions of stained glass (in comparison to other faiths), these windows must be preserved at all costs. I am currently writing a series of posts that will explore the history and use of stained glass windows in chapels and meetinghouses of the LDS Church. Similar to the series on tabernacles, it will briefly go through the history of the uses of these windows, but also provide different examples and stories of how it has affected our history. I hope to begin posting that in the next few weeks. Until then, you can browse all the posts that include images of historic stained glass here.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Beaver Dam Ward: Interior

Because I got to this building a bit late, the original chapel (now the primary room) was occupied when I visited this building. Fortunately, another blogger got a beautiful photo of that room.

The only other thing of note: the Bishop was very eager to tell me that, a few decades ago, LaVell Edwards (the famous BYU football coach) was married to his wife (Patti) in this cultural hall. I guess it's their ward's claim to fame.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Beaver Dam Ward

Located in the mountains above Garland, the Beaver Dam Ward (also known as the Beaver Ward) chapel has stood there for over 100 years. It was built in 1898.

(Image Source: Church History Library)
 Overall, it looks pretty good, although it does look like it could use some exterior work, especially on the tower. In the original picture above, you'll notice some details that are barely visible now (like the pair of diamonds near the top).

The building received a cultural hall (see image below) in the 1950s; in the 1980s, it was given an entirely new chapel on the opposite side, and the original chapel became the primary room. Both additions used the same local stone that was used to build the original portion. While I'm very happy to see such sensitive work, I am baffled that a small chapel in the middle of nowhere got such sensitive treatment, while other much more well-known historical buildings didn't. That's just the way it goes, sometimes.

(Image Source: Church History Library)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Central Park Ward

Built in 1926, the Central Park Ward chapel is a great example of the Prairie style of architecture.

(Image Source: Church History Library)

The main difference now is that steeple. The more chapels I visit, the more I'm convinced that someone in the Church Building Department is ordering that every chapel have a steeple, because nothing says 'I'm a church' like a steeple. The thing is, a building can still look like a very nice church without a steeple, and a steeple on this building is absolutely confusing (although they did it a bit better than in some other cases, like the Salt Lake 17th Ward's steeple.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tremonton Second Ward

Dedicated in March 1940, the Tremonton Second Ward building has some very nice architectural features on the exterior.

(Image Source: Church History Library)

I poked around the interior, but because a worship service was in session, I didn't take any pictures. While it doesn't match the detail that was given to the First Ward a few blocks north, it's a very nice building.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Riverton Second Ward: Interior

This is the lobby in the corner of the building:

Molding over the doorway:

The only main change to the chapel interior was the removal of the wood at the front, which shielded the window.

(Image Source: Church History Library)

At the back of the chapel are doors that would originally open to classrooms for overflow.

Meanwhile, below the chapel is the primary room.