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Our Lady of Grace, Dearborn Heights, Michigan

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Featured Windows, July 2006

First Presbyterian Church

Building: First Presbyterian Church of Bay City

City: Bay City

State: Michigan

Organized in 1856, the First Presbyterian Church of Bay City erected its first building in 1861. Soon after it was dedicated, the new church was destroyed by fire. It was replaced in 1863 by a larger building, which still stands under different ownership. An even larger third church, dedicated in 1893, was designed by Bay City architects Pratt & Koeppe in a Romanesque style. The new Ionia Sandstone church was constructed with the finest workmanship and interior appointments for a total cost of $105,000. Its many stained glass windows, located on three levels of the impressive building, were created by W. H. Wells & Co. of Chicago at a cost of $2600. Primarily ornamental with floral and symbolic designs, they feature much beveled glass and many glass jewels, as in the windows shown here.

The large window above was donated by the church organization Christian Endeavor, represented by the letters "CE."

In the mid-twentieth century, four more windows were added to the church chapel. These were made by the Willet Stained Glass Studios of Philadelphia and designed by Willet designer Marguerite Gaudin.

The chapel's main window depicts Jesus with outstretched hands, standing in front of an ox yoke. Inscribed below are the words, "Come Unto Me." Various Christian symbols are featured in the window's border.

W. H. Wells & Co. opened in ca. 1870 and was active until the turn of the century. The company was among studios that displayed their work at the World's Columbian Exposition held at Chicago in 1893, the year that the First Presbyterian Church windows were made. Other Michigan windows made by Wells & Co. are located in Lansing, Kalamazoo and Muskegon.

Willet Stained Glass Studios was founded by William Willet (1867-1921) with his wife, Anne Lee Willet (1867-1943). First located at Pittsburgh in 1898, the studio has been active at Philadelphia since 1913. It has created countless windows for churches and cathedrals across the country, including many windows in Michigan. Marguerite Gaudin (1909-1991) was a leading designer for Willet Stained Glass Studios. After graduating in 1930 from the Philadelphia College of Arts, she joined Willet's as a cartoonist in 1931, was the studio's head designer by 1940, and later became its director and vice-president. Her window designs have been found in several Michigan churches.

First Presbyterian Church was registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census and photographed by D. Llewellyn Drong of Davison, MI.

Bibliography: Show Bibliography

(MSGC 1996.0103)

Text by Betty MacDowell, Michigan Stained Glass Census, July , 2006.