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Featured Windows, April 2003

Lutheran Home Window

Building: Lutheran Home: Chapel of the Incarnation

City: Monroe

State: Michigan

This Ascension Window in the Gothic-style Chapel of the Incarnation at the Lutheran Home represents Jesus ascending into Heaven. Clothed in white and blue, he lifts his face toward rays of light streaming from above, while his outstretched hands bear the marks of his crucifixion. The scene is enclosed within a stained glass architectural frame. Two squares in the bottom corners of the window hold a hidden tribute to Ruth Shoemaker, in whose memory the window was given.

In one square, a tiny figure of a woman carrying a sheaf of wheat alludes to the biblical Ruth;

the other square holds the small figure of a cobbler, a reference to Mrs. Shoemaker and the window donors, her husband Edwin and son Dale. These tiny images carry on a long tradition of including depictions of the window donors within the window designs.

Built in the 1950s, the Lutheran Home ("altenheim" or home for the elderly) was remodeled and enlarged in 1992. Edwin and Dale Shoemaker funded the complete refurbishment of the building's chapel as a memorial to Mrs. Shoemaker, adding oak paneling, an arched ceiling, pipe organ, mosaic over the altar, and other fine furnishings. With the exception of an altar window brought from an earlier Lutheran Home, the chapel windows were created in 1993 by the Judson Studios of Los Angeles, California. The Judson firm also designed the altar mosaic, which was fabricated in Italy. Walter Judson, then president of the Judson Studios, called the project a once-in-a-lifetime experience, stating that "everything is being done to the very finest standards."

Walter Judson, a fourth-generation stained glass maker, died on January 5, 2003 at the age of 61. Judson was a native Californian born in Pasadena and a graduate of the University of Southern California. In 1975 he took over the family-owned business, founded in 1897 by his great grandfather, William Lees Judson. Under Walter Judson's direction, the Judson Studios created windows for churches, cathedrals, casinos, synagogues, and commercial buildings. Some recent commissions included the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles and Valley Beth Shalom synagogue in Encino. The firm's artists and craftsmen also designed vestments, mosaics, candleholders, and other religious furnishings, in line with Walter Judson's vision of the studio as providing an entire ecclesiastical environment. A devout Catholic with an extensive knowledge of religious iconography, Judson enjoyed leading "cathedral and pub" tours throughout Britain, to view stained glass windows and visit artists' studios and glassmaking factories, followed by dinners at notable pubs. His unexpected death has been felt by many in the world of stained glass artists, craftsmen and scholars.

The Chapel of the Incarnation at the Lutheran Home was registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census by Jim Ryland and Lynn Reaume of the Monroe County Historical Museum in Monroe.

(MSGC 1995.0048)

Text by Betty MacDowell, Michigan Stained Glass Census, April , 2003.