Reading Dan Aubrey’s excellent March 28 cover story “Adventures in Light and Color: Piecing Together Stained Glass History,” I was delighted to see the photo of the Tiffany window of St. George and the Dragon at Princeton United Methodist Church because I am among the volunteer tour guides there. I’ve delved into its fascinating history and artistry but knew little about the other glass artists represented in the more than two dozen locations he described.
PrincetonUMC offers free window tours on Sundays, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and individual and group tours are available by appointment (609-924-2613, www.PrincetonUMC.org). Volunteers also keep the doors open for a couple of hours on Fridays, Saturdays, and some weekdays at noon. PrincetonUMC is at 7 Vandeventer Avenue (on the corner of Nassau Street across from the Garden Theater).
A special tour will be Sunday, April 15, at 12:30 p.m. Aubrey will lead it, starting at PrincetonUMC and continuing to the Princeton University Chapel and beyond. For information e-mail email@example.com or go to the Facebook page “Stained Glass Project of Greater Trenton and Princeton.” (See story, page 20.)
Window tours are just one of the dozens of ways that PrincetonUMC opens its building; many groups meet here. The Cornerstone Community Kitchen offers free meals on Wednesdays (5 to 6:30 p.m.) For most meetings people enter through doors that open onto the Park Place parking lot. However, the entrance door on Vandeventer Avenue leads to the Feed Truck Cafe. This “pop up coffee house” operates on Thursdays, during April, from 7 p.m. to midnight and welcomes everyone.
Window tour visitors come from nearby and around the world to marvel at the window signed by the studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The subject, Saint George, is unusual for a Protestant church; it honors a Princeton University student who had an untimely death in the 1890s. It evokes many stories, including how its donor, a Methodist minister, could afford such an expensive memorial and why he chose that subject. On the esthetic side, the artists did not use paint; they etched details with acid. And then there is the connection to women in the labor movement. As described in current research about glass worker Clara Driscoll, Tiffany’s female artists competed with the male employees and often surpassed them in artistry and productivity.
Former Tiffany artist Louis Lederle designed another PrincetonUMC window that takes one’s breath away, a wall-size triptych, “Jesus and the Little Children.” In a very different style, “Christ at Heart’s Door” was designed after a Victorian-era painting. In the main sanctuary the unsigned portraits of the Gospel writers are exactly the same as those in the Cologne Cathedral.
Some visitors are curious about these treasures; many have their own stories to tell, and some enter to meditate or pray. Often they say our century-old house of worship has been a blessing to them. It is a joy to see that, whenever we prop the doors open, people stream in.
Barbara Figge Fox
Princeton United Methodist Church