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Window of the Month
Detroit Institute of Arts

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Featured Windows, November-December 2012

Mariner's Church

Building: Mariners' Church

City: Detroit

State: Michigan

This being November and the occasion of Veterans Day*, Mariner’s Church and their stained glass windows are very appropriate for Windows of the Month. Interestingly, old photos of the early church show the windows were not figural, only stenciled designs depicting a fleur-de-lis pattern. It is now obvious that the old glass was reused in the making of the current nave windows, as the old stenciled glass now surrounds the various painted elements.

Mariner's Church

The stained glass windows at Mariner’s Church in downtown Detroit display, in general, homage to the military, especially sailors and seamen. When it was first built in 1842, the proximity to the Detroit River brought seamen there to worship, and to receive food and clothing, if needed. Due to the planned building of the Civic Center, in late December 1954 it took four months to move the church to its current location adjacent to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. The move was featured in the April 25, 1955 issue of Life Magazine.

Previously the worship area was on the 2nd floor of the building, but due to the slope of the ground, the worship area was placed at the same level as Hart Plaza, with the offices on the lower lever. A previously blank wall that had abutted another building now was available for stained glass windows, which now face onto Jefferson Avenue. The J&R Lamb Studio, New York/New Jersey was selected to design and fabricate the stained glass windows. All of the windows have some reference to sailors, seamen, and the various branches of the military.

Blessing of the Mariners

Back on November 10, 1975 news broke about the loss of the ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald during a major storm on Lake Superior (http://www.ssefo.com/). The late Reverend Ingalls (1926-April 24, 2006) went to the church tower, rang the bell 29 times, once for each of the lost sailors, and proceeded to the sanctuary for prayers. Before he concluded, various Detroit media appeared and the resulting publicity inspired singer and songwriter Gordon Lightfoot to write the ballad “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.

Michael and Urial

Nearly 2,500 design sketches for stained glass windows, murals, and mosaics of the Lamb Studios are now accessible on line via The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division which acquired the drawings from Don and Donna Samick, the current Lamb Studios owners, in 2003,, The J. & R. Lamb Studios was founded in 1857 and is the oldest decorative arts firm in continuous operation in the United States. The firm’s historic business records and photographs were donated by Barea Lamb Seeley and Charles Anthony Lamb in 2004.

*The day to honor veterans was first celebrated as Armistice Day, after the end of World War I. Now called Veterans Day, it is observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. This preserves the historical significance of the date of the signing of the armistice which ended World War I, and is a celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

(MSGC 1992.0007)

Text by Barbara Krueger, Michigan Stained Glass Census, November , 2012.