Windows of Rare Beauty

Dee Bowers

Black and white photo of stained glass window representing spring scene
CHUR_1206, Spring Window, 1915, black and white silver gelatin print. Photographs from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, BCMS.0002. Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History. 

We've lately had some surprisingly warm days in Brooklyn, and though they've been mixed with days appropriately cold for February, I nonetheless found my thoughts turning toward Spring. So for today's Photo of the Week, we have this Brooklyn Eagle photograph of a spring-themed stained glass window.

The window was commissioned by Howard E. Raymond in memory of his mother, Anna K. Swalm. Her obituary in the Brooklyn Times Union described her as "a very charitable woman in a quiet way." The inscription on the window seems to bear this out, as it reads:

O gentle hands, so busy evermore

With healing touch or helpful tenderness!

'Twas your to lift the burden others bore

Your sole reward, the joy of helpfulness.

These touching words, coupled with the beautiful image that the Brooklyn Citizen described as "a bubbling mountain brook, dashing down between white birch covered banks," form a moving tribute to a much-beloved mother and community member.

But what particularly caught my eye about this image is the text at the bottom: "Tiffany Studios, N.Y." The summary in the catalog record notes its location as "Church of Our Father, Grand Avenue and Lefferts Place." I used to live on Grand Avenue, so I knew I must have passed this location before. I looked up the intersection and found that the building is now occupied by Bethel Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Based on the exterior photos on their website, it seems there are some windows of the appropriate size and shape still present. Could it be that there is a Tiffany stained glass window in this church that I've walked past dozens of times at the intersection of Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, and Bedford-Stuyvesant?

As it turns out, no, the window is not still at the church. I tracked it down in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, where it is paired with a similar window depicting an autumn scene and dedicated to Anna's brother, Joseph K. Gardner. The windows had been transferred from the Church of Our Father to the All Souls Universalist Church on Ocean Avenue in 1945 before making their way to the Brooklyn Museum in 1999. From what I can see in the images on the Brooklyn Museum website, the dedicatory texts have been removed from the bottoms of the windows, which might explain why neither Swalm nor Gardner's names appear in the catalog record. Luckily, thanks to Brooklyn Newsstand and the Brooklyn Eagle photo morgue, we are still able to know the full story of these beautiful creations.

Interested in seeing more photos from CBH’s collections? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images, or the digital collections portal at Brooklyn Public Library. We look forward to inviting you to CBH in the future to research in our entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections. In the meantime, please visit our resources page to search our collections. Questions? Our reference staff is available to help with your research! You can reach us at


This blog post reflects the opinions of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Brooklyn Public Library.


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