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Window of the Month
Our Lady of Grace, Dearborn Heights, Michigan

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Featured Windows, January 2005

The Michigan League, The University of Michigan

Building: Michigan League, University of Michigan

City: Ann Arbor

State: Michigan

The January 2005 Window(s) of the Month are located in Ann Arbor on the campus of the University of Michigan in the Michigan League building (known as the League), a picturesque Collegiate Gothic building--one of the anchors on the northern edge of the campus mall. The 1929 windows were designed by the Chicago architectural firm (and UM alumni) of Pond and Pond and fabricated by the Linden Glass Company of Chicago. The most prominent window makes a very visual statement on the stairway landing to the second floor. The smaller windows were installed on the first floor in the Charlotte Blagdon Chapel. In 1991 the chapel was turned into office and meeting room space and the windows are hidden to the casual observer.

In 1890, a few women students at the university met to discuss having an organization for the benefit of women. By 1897 a gymnasium for women opened which became a center for women's social activities on campus. At this time there were only two dormitories on campus and most women rented rooms in the homes of local residents. By 1919, with an increase of female students after World War I, the gym became too small and fundraising began for a larger building. This occurred around the same time that the U.S. Congress ratified the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. By 1927 over a million dollars had been pledged, so the architectural firm of Pond and Pond from Chicago was selected to design the building. Natives of Ann Arbor and UM alumni, brothers Irving (1857-1939) and Allen (1858-1929)--whose father had been a Michigan state legislator and editor of the local Ann Arbor newspaper--had already designed several campus buildings including the Michigan Union, where coincidentally, their boyhood home had earlier occupied part of the site.

The large stained glass window on the main stair landing of the League was donated by Ormand E. Hunt as a memorial to his wife Hazel (Hill) Hunt (1883-1927). While at UM, Hazel was by all accounts a "renaissance woman," very involved in literary and musical activities. The window is a fitting tribute to Hazel with the three lancets containing central scenes depicting maidens representing Science, Inspiration and Art.

The key figure in the Art panel (left), surrounded by 5 other maidens, holds a palette and brush, while the Inspiration maiden (right), also surrounded by five maidens, holds the lamp of learning in her hand. The Science window's maiden holds a telescope. Very intricate silver stained leaf patterns make up the auxiliary panels. An inscription at the bottom memorializes Hazel Hill Hunt.

Married in 1910, Ormand and Hazel both matriculated from University of Michigan in 1907. Unfortunately Hazel developed multiple sclerosis, was unable to care for their four children due to her illness and died in 1927 at the young age of 44.

The windows in the (Charlotte) Blagdon room, originally a chapel named for the late president of the Women's League and donated by the YWCA of Ann Arbor, are very unusual and were recalled in a ca. 1935 letter from architect Irving Pond where he pointed out that he and his late brother Allen had designed the symbols:

"It was the original intention of Mrs. Henderson (the key motivator of the building project) to make the chapel a restful room…where quiet readings might be indulged in rather than worship along ritualistic lines. The room was to appeal to individual shades of belief or of non-belief…formal services could be held regularly in the room; but this was not anticipated, nor indeed, desired, by the founders. Jew, gentile, pagan--all should find sympathetic surroundings at all times and feel entirely at home… symbols of all faiths are incorporated into the disigns [sic] of the colored glass windows. The Hebrew [six pointed] star, the Svastika [Eternal movement]; the Cross [Christian symbol]; the Crox Austata [the Egyptian key of life]; the serpent embracing its tail."

Other symbols include: the Celtic cross; the Chi cross; a trefoil; Chi/Rho; chalice and wafer; Latin cross; triangle in a circle; five-pointed Bethlehem star; Chinese character Shou, denoting immortality; and Bridget's cross.

The Linden Glass Company of Chicago (1884-1934), formerly known as the decorating firm of Spierling & Linden, was used regularly by Frank Lloyd Wright as one of the major stained glass fabricators for his buildings, including Chicago's Unity Temple and the Robie and Coonley houses, the Dana House in Springfield, IL and the Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, NY.

Since 1965, the League has been open to both women and men and is one of three student unions on the Ann Arbor campus. Since the mid 1990s, the League has become a place to hold student and community seminars, conferences and receptions. There is also a gift shop, several casual eating facilities, a lovely sunken garden, and a small inn.

The Michigan League was registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census by Ralph Beebe and Sheryl Szady, both of Ann Arbor.

Bibliography: Show Bibliography

(MSGC 2004.0009)

Text by Barbara Krueger, Michigan Stained Glass Census, January , 2005.