The Stories Behind the Windows

The Stories Behind the Windows

Although the Inn’s Chapel newest windows are decades old, the original documents that tell the story of the stained glass, designed and fabricated by Associated Crafts & Willet Hauser (then Willet Studios), have just been donated to the school. Correspondence, contracts, and descriptions that show the development of our windows in the mid-1970s are now a part of the SCH archives. 
How is it that we have these stunning windows? What do they tell us? The story behind these windows in our school is inextricably tied to the story of the Wissahickon Inn. When the Wissahickon Inn was built, the Chapel was used as a ballroom and was then transformed into a gymnasium when CHA began to use the building. In 1905, a gymnasium was built on campus (currently The Rec) and the former ballroom was converted to the Chapel by lowering the floor. A renovation and restoration to the Chapel fixed the floor, upgraded the carpet, cleaned the woodwork, and replaced some lighting. This restoration did not address the windows, and SCH is grateful to the Class of 1966 for funding the restoration of their stained glass window. This restoration included thorough cleaning, repairs, restoration, and efficiency improvements. 

In honor of their 50th Reunion in 2016, the CHA Class of 1966 raised funds to restore the Class of 1966 Stained Glass Window, located in the Chapel. The original dedication of the window occurred just after the class graduated, and it was restored a little more than 50 years later. 

On the north side of the chapel are five stained glass windows designed by Associated Crafts & Willet Hauser. Each addresses the theme of understanding and contains a boy and a girl seeking an understanding of various aspects of their world.

Next time you’re on campus, take a little time to stop to see our Chapel windows! Your guide is below!

At the front of the chapel, the first window depicts an understanding of God. Along with religious symbols of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, are historical religious figures—Moses, Martin Luther, and Saint John. The boy and girl look at the symbol representing the triune God.

The second window depicts the understanding of our cultural heritage. Dressed in futuristic clothes and holding a guitar, the boy and girl are surrounded by symbols and historical figures representing the disciplines of music, sculpture, writing, architecture, theater, poetry, and dance—Walt Whitman, William Shakespeare, Jackson Pollock, Andrew Wyeth, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, New York’s Rockefeller Center, and even Mickey Mouse.

The middle window addresses the theme of understanding others. In this scene, the boy and girl are surrounded by figures of social reform and action. Jane Adams of Chicago Hull House fame, Christ with youths of different races, Mahatma Gandhi, and Red Cross founder Clara Barton are some of the social activists represented in the window.

The fourth window relates to understanding our environment. In this, the boy and girl face Issac Newton’s lightbox and his scientific method, Darwin, Galileo, and Copernicus represent theories of the universe and evolution. Einstein, and the nuclear symbol of physical matter, connect us to the modern nuclear age of science.

The theme of the fifth window is understanding ourselves. Here, the boy and girl represent the youths’ quest for self-awareness and identity. Historical figures in this window are Sigmund Freud, Desiderius Erasmus, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Søren Kierkegaard, and John Locke representing different areas of philosophy, psychology, and spirituality.

On the east wall of the Epiphany Chapel (behind the podium) are three stained glass windows. The theme of the original windows (early 1900s) was the Epiphany—the Christmas story of the Magi visiting the Christ child at his birth. The left window depicted the Magi; the center window, the Nativity; and the right window, the shepherds. However, the Woodwards felt that the shepherds' window did not fit the theme, so they replaced it with one depicting the Maji before King Herod.

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