Stained glass tourists take closer look

Close to 50 people took a unique tour during the Christmas Stroll Dec. 8 and spent about 30 minutes at different churches in Hebron to discover history tidbits about the stained glass windows inside the churches.

The tour was guided by Hebron’s history information bank, Dave Cording, who said the topic of church windows came up during the 150th tour he also led.

They started at Hebron United Methodist Church. 

“Those are windows we know the least about,” Cording said. “We could talk about the symbolism and the color green for the Resurrection and Rebirth. My best guess is they were installed in 1910.”    

The second stop on the tour was Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The newest stained glass window in the city was gifted to the church after the 1953 tornado by Presbyterians, James Strachan and Beryl Lawless Strachan.

James heard about the tornado over the news wire service. The window came from Edinburgh, Scotland and was designed by the McLundie architects, that also have a window in the District of Colombia at Washington National Cathedral.

The subject matter of the window are angels playing ancient instruments. 

“Typically, we see angels in white robes with gold wings. In the window, the angels are in red with blue-purple wings. The symbolism is red and blue are the colors of divine love and loyalty,” Cording said. “That combination of colors repeats throughout European history.” 

Cording said he appreciated the tourists taking their time to look at the windows. 

“They never noticed angels are flanking the central figures,” he said about the windows in the nave of the church. 

He said it was interesting. Several people commented they had been in the churches and never noticed the detail in the windows.   

Tourists also stopped at Grace Lutheran Church. Magdalene Payson, who taught art at Hebron Academy, donated the church’s west windows in memory of missionaries killed during World War II. 

Other windows in the church were originally in another pattern with the 12 disciples displayed in 12 windows that were all together. Their names are in German and at the top part of the windows are their life histories with their missionary works at the bottom of the windows. 

Over at the Hebron Presbyterian Church, the stained glass windows were installed in 1890 and are the oldest in the city. Edna Mitchell researched the windows and was convinced they were given by a single donor, Andrew Gordon Collins, the owner and president of the First National Bank. 

The windows have mathematical symbolism with the number three as the Trinity; the Earth symbol, four; and seven for the combination of Heaven and Earth.

“All we know about the glass is the research indicated they were imported from Italy. They’re really good examples of Victorian glass. We’re really lucky to have them,” Dave Cording said.

Mitchell was the city’s former librarian. She was at Colombia University and returned to Hebron to take care of her mother. 

Cording isn’t sure if Mitchell was a student or professor at the university. He thinks her research was a lifelong quest.