Te Deum Window
History and Construction
The focal point in the Sanctuary, on the south wall of the church, is the Stoddard memorial window, designed by Tiffany studios. After a short public display in New York, it was shipped to Dayton and installed in the south wall of the First Presbyterian Church.
When nationally recognized architect Ralph Adams Cram was hired to build Westminster, he initially dismissed the idea of using this window in his new design. Minutes of a special meeting of the Building Committee on July 17, 1924, record his eventual reluctant acceptance that this memorial window, “though not especially good, should be embodied in the new building.” Subsequently, he designed the building in such a way that with all the front doors open, one may walk up the steps from the street to the Sanctuary and have an unobstructed view of the full height of the window.
The earliest brochures about this window quote Edward Stanton George, who is identified as one of the great artists of stained glass. Mr. George was also, at the time, the manager of the Ecclesiastical Department at Tiffany Studios. He calls this “the finest medallion window in America” and adds the assurance that it is no doubt Tiffany’s masterpiece.
Mr. Louis C. Tiffany was well-renowned for the unique nature and high quality of his stained glass work. In a 1922 publication by Tiffany studios, which features a picture of this window, Tiffany is described as a scientist as well as an artist, who “discovered a means of producing a material fraught with colors, surfaces and textures in infinite variety and varying degrees of transparency. It was not only opalescent, deriving its play of colors largely by transmitted light, but it was also iridescent with a permanent, metallic lustre, emitting rainbow effects by light reflected from the surfaces,” which he trademarked as Tiffany favrile glass. This window is composed of thousands of varying pieces of this multi-colored and multi-textured glass, held together by strips of lead and copper.
The Te Deum window displays a dominant note of purple, a rich and glowing color, and yet there is very little purple glass. Instead, this is the result of light shining through glass of different colors in such a way as to produce a third color.
This is known as a medallion window because of the distinct panels within it. It is known as a triple lancet window because of the shape of the three sections, which are each tall, thin and come to a point at the top.
View a brochure containing the history, construction, and symbolism of the window and details of the window's lancets, medallions, and panels.
Removal and Restoration
The harsh heat in the summer of 2012 took a particularly heavy toll on this window. We brought in consultants who confirmed restoration needed to be done soon to prevent further damage from the heat: "The large Tiffany window, the Te Deum, in the chancel of Westminster Presbyterian Church, is in fair to poor condition... [T]he five large medallions in the center lancet are severely bowed and actively moving. These must be removed within the next year or two for restoration. The rest of the sections in the center and two side lancets exhibit minor to moderate bowing and should be restored within the next five years. Of critical importance is the ventilation of the protective glazing..."
Over a three week period, beginning in mid-August 2014, the window was taken down and stored locally to protect it. During the window's absence, a photo transparency of the window affixed to plexiglass has been installed in its place.
See a photo documentary with descriptions of the removal process, on our Facebook page.
In March 2015, the window was shipped to the Welton/O'Neill Studio in New Mexico to begin its restoration. This process took just over a year to complete. See photos of the restoration progress here.
August 2016, the window was finally restored and back safely in its old home to be enjoyed once again in its full splendor. See the slide show here. Please note there is no sound included in this slide show.
Click here to view a PDF version of Craig Showalter's Summer Sunday presentation, "The Wall and the Window."
The restored window was rededicated in worship on Sunday, September 11, 2016.
On that day, Stained Glass Consultant, Julie Sloan gave a presentation, "The Story of the Te Deum Window: Restored and Recovered." To view full sized slides, click here. An annotated version of Julie's presentation is also available here.
Giving Our Hearts To God Capital Campaign
Restoration of the Te Deum Window is one of six major projects our church is currently undertaking as critical needs for the use of our facility. To fund these projects, we have created this extra appeal.
Your support is appreciated.
Ten percent of the funds raised will be set aside as a reserve fund for future building and grounds projects. Another ten percent of the funds raised will be used for a special mission initiative yet to be determined.
More details about this campaign are here.