Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Twenty-ninth Ward (Salt Lake): Stained Glass Detail

 The front of the 29th Ward had three beautiful stained glass windows: two smaller transom windows over the main entrances, and one large one between the two. These were at the back of the chapel, but since they were on the south side, they provided beautiful colored light to the members of the ward.

(Image Source: Church History Library)
(Image Source: Church History Library)
By the early 1950s, the doors and their transom windows had been removed; instead, one main door was placed between the two.

Of course, now, all of the windows are gone. The large window was removed in a 1960 renovation; several of the pieces of glass were loose, and ward members felt that "repair would be too costly." A large frosted window was put in its place; predictably enough, this allowed too much light to enter and created a glare on the congregation. So it was covered with curtains.

It's disappointing that the stained glass was removed and that steps were not taken to preserve it. The current location of the windows is unknown; they may have been discarded, or someone may have taken possession of them, loose pieces notwithstanding. However, an artist did a painting of the window before it was removed:

It was a beautiful window.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Latter-day Stained Glass: Introduction - A History of LDS Stained Glass

Note: This is the introduction to a series on the history of the use of stained glass in the LDS Church.

Every Sunday, I will post a new part of the series. (Tuesdays and Thursdays will continue to see regular posts that document historic architecture.) Here are the posts in this series (I will link to them as they are posted):

Introduction – A History of LDS Stained Glass


“Mormon architecture, unlike the architecture of longer established Catholic and Protestant churches, has never been characterized by the extensive use of art glass windows” (Allen Roberts, “Art Glass Windows in Mormon Architecture,” Sunstone, Winter 1975, 10).

Cedar City Second Ward (built 1927; demolished 2013); Image Source

When the LDS Church’s use of stained glass in chapels is discussed, the conversation almost always revolves around the fact that the Church does not use stained glass in its chapels. The reasons for this are equally explained and lamented: standardized and utilitarian meetinghouses, a focus on the pulpit in modern-day Mormonism, or an architectural hierarchy that gives preference to temples.

Salt Lake Second Ward (built 1908)

Lost in most discussions is an understanding that stained glass used to be much more common in LDS meetinghouses than it is now; hundreds of these windows still exist. Many members express surprise when they learn of or encounter these windows; they are so uncommon that it has become foreign to our culture. Some members have even justified the lack of these windows with the cultural teaching that stained glass is distracting, particularly when it contains images.

Provo Fouth Ward (built 1918; now sold)

Still, the fact remains that whatever current Church practices dictate, these windows were used in meetinghouses much more in the past. Certainly, the Church's relatively young age (in comparison to other major religions, such as the Catholic Church), combined with its members' limited resources in an age when stained glass reached its peak culturally around the turn of the century, ensures that the LDS Church will never have the same architectural reputation of most other major religions, at least in terms of stained glass.

Springville Second Ward, built 1902

In spite of this, the fact remains that the Church had and has a reputation and identity when it comes to stained glass. When was stained glass first used in LDS meetinghouses? How did the trends in the use of these windows, the symbols and scenes depicted, and the preservation (or lack thereof) in later years mirror, or differ from, that of other American religions? Is the absence of stained glass windows a result of cultural influences, correlation committees, or both?

Salt Lake Twenty-first Ward (Built 1904)

After the positive feedback I received from the series on LDS Tabernacles, I decided to put together a series on LDS stained glass and its history. It is taken from my own research, and is a watered-down, condensed version of my own article and accompanying stained glass registry that I am writing as part of my research. Each will be accompanied by images of the stained glass from those periods, as I have had the opportunity to take hundreds of photos in my travels. This series will take us through the use of stained glass in LDS chapels from the late 1800s to the present, giving us an overview of the trends regarding their use and providing us with valuable insight into the workings of Church architecture in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

Capitol Hill Ward (built 1928)

The LDS Church has hundreds of beautiful windows that can be found in chapels around the world, and it does have a cultural identity that can be found in these leaded windows. This series will allow us to discover these windows, and decide for ourselves what that identity is, together.

Next Week: Part 1 - The Introduction and Early Use of Stained Glass

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Twenty-ninth Ward (Salt Lake)

Construction started on the 29th ward chapel in 1902. It was a beautiful structure, located in the Fairpark Community west of the city.

(Image Source: Church History Library)

The building is still standing, but it's in very poor condition. It was sold in the early 1980s and served in a few different capacities for a while, but it is now abandoned. Local councils have met to discuss the possibility of rezoning the area, so that that chapel could be remodeled to hold residences or even businesses, but nothing has been finalized yet.

The chapel's interior was lovely, and a beautiful example of what LDS architecture could achieve. Three stained glass windows were installed at the front of the building, donated by the ward's bishop. (We'll take a closer look at those windows in a future post.) The chapel itself had a small gallery overlooking the main seating area. In its early years, cherubs were painted on the ceiling, giving this chapel its own version of a traditional fresco. 

(Image Source: Church History Library)
(Image Source)
Of course, the interior is now in far worse condition. The windows, paintings, and furniture are all gone. In fact, when I visited the building, you could hear mice inside of it.

I hope this building will be preserved in some fashion; it is once one of the Church's most beautiful chapels.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ovid Ward

The Ovid, Idaho ward chapel was built around 1895-1896. It was sold by the 1960s, and now is privately owned.

The building originally had a larger tower that was much more fitting:

(Image Source: Church History Library)
 Sometime in the early 1900s, this was removed and it was shortened.

(Image Source: Church History Library)
Some of the patterned details are still visible over the windows. The building is overall in rough shape, but it still is lovely, especially in this setting.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mink Creek Ward: Interior

The chapel used to be quite ornate, especially for a small community. Apparently, local Church leaders were scolded for building such an ornate (and expensive) building here.

(Image Source: Church History Library)

Scott Haskins, who does art conservation work and occasionally is involved in Church projects, visited the chapel recently to check out the mural. Here's what it looks like now:

(Image Source)
As you'll notice, the chapel has changed directions; the mural is now at the back. Some of the decorations along the ceiling have also been lost.

The mural was painted by H. Helgeson, depicting Temple Square at that time.

(Image Source)
Scott visited the chapel because the Church was looking into extending the chapel (to increase capacity). If that is ever done, this mural will be moved to another wall. I'm encouraged to know that the building will stay, even if it's expanded to increase capacity.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mink Creek Ward

Mink Creek is a small farming community northeast of Preston, Idaho. It has a nice chapel that was built in 1928-1929.

(Image Source: Church History Library)
 The building has been more or less preserved.

The main changes are the doors.

It's a beautiful chapel in a gorgeous setting. This is the Church's backyard: a small cemetery, and pastures.

The building was closed when I visited, but I was able to get interior pictures that I'll post next.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

"Those Who've Gone Before": Salt Lake Twelfth & Thirteenth Ward

This series honors LDS Architecture that is no longer standing. To see all the posts in this series, click here.

I don't have an exact date on when this chapel was built; it was likely around 1910. It had a really lovely design, but the building itself didn't last long--it was razed in the 1940s.

(Image Source: Church History Library)

One of the building's most beautiful features was a stained glass window of Christ teaching the Apostles. It was donated by Mary Ellen Spencer Lonsdale, in honor of her parents, John and Mary Ann Butler Spencer. Fortunately, when the building was razed, the Church saved the window, and now hangs in a prominent location of the Church History Museum.

The window is quite lovely; the horizontal lead lines in the window are thick, giving it a sturdy design. The lead line at the tip of Christ's extended finger bulges upward; the window is clear about the importance of the main subject.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Laketown Ward: Exterior Details

The inscription reads "LDS 1906."

The modern chapel matches the newer cultural hall building much better than the original chapel. It has some nice marbled glass, though, and the lines here match the decorative lines above the original chapel's entrance.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Laketown Ward

This sandstone chapel was built from 1906-08, in the center of Laketown (just south of Bear Lake).

(Image Source: Church History Library)
By the middle of the century, a small addition was made on the rear, housing classrooms. Just to the building's south, a cultural hall was built.

(Image Source: Church History Library)
Now, a modern chapel was built in between the cultural hall (just to the left of this picture) and the original chapel. The original chapel has been modified to house classrooms.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

University Ward: Chapel Interior

The University Ward's chapel is long, narrow, and more reminiscent of a Protestant chapel than a Mormon one. Phrases are painted on the beams along the top of the chapel.

It really is a beautiful combination of different elements that make this a wonderful place of worship.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

University Ward: Mural Details

The tiled mural on the exterior of the University Ward chapel is very unique in LDS Architecture. I'm not aware of many other chapels that have something similar to this.

It fits in very well with the Art Deco style of architecture. The details on the walls are spectacular.