In Dubuque, we visited St. Luke's Methodist Church, known for its Tiffany windows. This building was built 1895-1897, and with the windows and altar furniture included, cost over $100,000 to construct.
The church features Richardsonian Romanesque architecture and is built from Indiana Bedford limestone. Each stone is hand-cut, and some have embedded fossils.
The tower contains an 11-bell chime, which can play in the keys of G, D, and A. The bells have a combined weight of about 15,000 lbs. They were dedicated in 1913.
This church has the fifth largest collection of Tiffany windows in the United States. The windows were created by Louis Comfort Tiffany in New York.
A ten-minute video presentation gave us some of the church's history and explained the difference between regular stained glass and Tiffany by comparing the two windows above, in the sanctuary.
The one on the left depicting the Good Samaritan is Tiffany. The glass is infused with color. Only the details of faces are painted on. It also has an uneven thickness. The window on the right is regular, painted stained glass.
Many of the windows were recently releaded, which means every little piece was taken apart and leaded back together. You can see it was quite the undertaking if you note how many pieces these windows are composed of!
The Angel Among the Lilies is over the altar. Its inscription reads, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." It was given by the Richardson family in memory of their daughter, Harriet, who died at age 18. It is said that the angel's face resembles Harriet. Some consider the resemblance remarkable, as Tiffany supposedly had never seen a photo of the young lady.
The beautiful Farrand and Votey organ at the front of the church has 2,200 pipes, and required two train cars to transport it to Dubuque in 1897. It originally cost $7,500. In 1992 it was restored for about $140,000.
The inscription above at the front of the church reads, "He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."
Relying on my imperfect memory, the church was originally built to seat 2000 people. The sliding doors below could be removed for more seating area on the other side of the church. Since the current sanctuary provides ample room for present-day seating needs, the other part of the church is now used for offices and classrooms.
Each of the upper row windows on the doors contains a symbol of the early church. First is the Greek letter Alpha, and last, Omega. These stand for Christ: the first and last, beginning and end. A lamp and open book stand for the Bible. The other four windows are intended to symbolize the four gospels.
The church traces its history back to 1833, when circuit-riding Methodist preacher Barton Randal crossed the Mississippi and preached the first Protestant sermon in Iowa at the Bell Tavern. In 1834, the Methodists proceeded to build the first church of any denomination in Iowa--a log cabin 20x36 feet. This building was open for use by other denominations. It also served as a schoolhouse and the first courthouse in Iowa.
Subsequent churches were built in 1839 and 1853. The third church was rebuilt in 1868. The present church is called St. Luke's, partially in memory of Dr. George M. Staples, chairman of the building committee, who died before the church was completed. He was a prominent physician in Dubuque, so it was decided to name the church after St. Luke in tribute to the "beloved physician."
The Job Window, above the balcony, is perhaps my favorite in this church. At 18x15 feet, it is the largest window. It depicts the unknown author of the Book of Job holding a pen and book, with Palestine and the Dead Sea in the background.
This window is in memory of Jesse Farley, who joined the original log cabin church in 1835, and "gave over 50 years of loyal and dedicated service to the Methodist church."
The window above left, "David Set Singers Before the Lord," is the last window that was installed in the church. Appropriately, it stands behind the area for the choir and musicians. This window bears Tiffany's signature.
The window above right depicts the baptism of Christ. Below is Christ and the children.
The Good Shepherd, below left, was displayed by the Tiffany Company in 1893 at the Columbian Exposition as its finest glass production. Center is the Ascension of Christ, and right, the Angel of Victory.
I very much enjoyed my visit to St. Luke's Methodist church. The windows are lovely, and the organ is impressive. I suppose my only regret is not being able to hear the organ played.
If you ever visit the Dubuque area, be sure to take a few moments to visit and admire the beauty of this church.
Which of these windows is your favorite?
What is the most architecturally beautiful church you've visited?