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Featured Windows, August 2002

Kirk in the Hills Windows

Building: Kirk in the Hills

City: Bloomfield Hills

State: Michigan

The glass walls of the Cloister at the Kirk in the Hills contain twenty-one stained glass portrait medallions of Christian leaders throughout the centuries, arranged in groups of three within the Cloister's seven bays.

Shown here are the portraits of Englishman John Wycliffe, translator of the Bible into English; Martin Luther, German leader of the Protestant Reformation; John Wesley, English father of Methodism; John Montieth, an American Presbyterian missionary and first President of the University of Michigan; William B. Booth, English founder of the Salvation Army; and Dwight L. Moody, American evangelist. All of the portrait medallions were created between 1949 and 1953 by the Detroit Stained Glass Works, which also made the windows of the Kirk's tower. Established in 1861 under the name of Friedericks and Staffin, the firm's name was changed in 1914. Until its closing in 1970, the Detroit Stained Glass Works produced numerous windows for churches, homes, steamboats, railroad cars and other buildings in Michigan and neighboring states. To view other windows by this same firm, visit the Windows of the Month for November 1997, December 1999, and July 2002.

Kirk in the Hills and its grounds were a gift to the Presbytery of Detroit from Colonel Edwin S. George, a Detroit businessman who established a foundation to provide for the building's construction. Designed by Detroit architect Wirt C. Rowland, the Gothic style structure was patterned after the ancient ruins of Melrose Abbey in Scotland. After Rowland's premature death in 1946, the work was continued by the Detroit architectural firm of George D. Mason & Co. Services were held in the Undercroft as early as 1952. Shortly before the completion of the sanctuary in 1957, lightning caused a disastrous fire that destroyed most of the roof and much of the interior. After a year of reconstruction, the sanctuary and tower were completed in November of 1958. The abbey and refectory areas were finished later in 1964. The Cloister containing these windows was built onto Colonel George's original mansion, which is part of the entire complex. Stained glass windows created by the Boston studios of Joseph G. Reynolds and Associates and Wilbur H. Burnham are located in other parts of the Kirk.

Kirk in the Hills of Bloomfield Hills was registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census by Crystal Thomas and Virginia Vieira of Commerce Township.

(MSGC 1998.0029)

Text by Betty MacDowell, Michigan Stained Glass Census, August , 2002.