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Monday, February 14, 2011

Willet Correspondence - Stained Glass Windows

Willet was involved with the windows of First Presbyterian in four periods in five decades from the 1920s through the 1990s. No records of the 1990s have yet been located, and no contact is known to have occurred in the 1950s.

The contacts in the 1920s and 1930s were related primarily to consideration of Willet to be involved in the ten history windows, both before and after the death of Tiffany. Later Willet was selected to create the East window (1948) and the Rose window (1992).

He also created other windows: Jesus and the Little Children (1934), Winship Chapel (1965), and the Narthex set (1969) (first mentioned in a letter from Dr. Lyons in 1929).

When Tiffany died, D’Ascenzo was chosen over Willet despite Willet’s vigorous competition and his inside contacts. Willet’s letters criticize D’Ascenco in several ways.

Two important factors in rejecting Willet’s proposal for the ten History windows relate to the desire to keep the final four windows consistent with the first six in design, color and style. It was vital to Dr. Lyons that the windows and their stories be more important than the styles of different artists. Also important was the willingness of the artist to work closely with the designer (Dr. Lyons) and the members of the church in portraying the subjects involved.

I am confident that records of the communications with Willet in regard to the Rose window will be found and am always hopeful for finding other records and personal memories which will contribute.

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