This stained glass window at York, Pa.’s, First Moravian Church is one of 31 designed by noted York County artist J. Horace Rudy. This is another in a series on those windows. Also of interest: All Rudy stained-glass window posts from the start and York native Steve Zirnkilton’s ‘Law & Order’ voice known to the world and York County enthusiasts could find historical event, site to visit every day.
A celebration marking renovations to York’s First Moravian Church is set for 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 31. (For details, visit: A faith’s history in color glass)
Those attending can’t miss the window featured in this installment of the windows of First Moravian. It’s the front window, the large window facing North Duke Street.
First Moravian member Terrence Downs tells about the window, in memory of Beauchamp H. Smith, in the following piece:
“I will be as the dew unto Israel: He shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.” Hosea 14:15.
This window is one which greets visitors coming to York First Moravian when arriving via the front walk on North Duke Street – and also ascending the staircases to and exiting the Sanctuary on the upper floor of our fine edifice: This incredible window – having been dedicated October 25, 1910 is In Loving Remembrance – Beauchamp H. Smith. This unit is the tallest of the facility, with approximately 1,800 pieces of glass and weighing approximately 3,000 pounds. A marvel of engineering and creation from both the J. Horace Rudy Studios and the work of architect, the Dempwolf Brothers – to bring the York Moravian Church into resplendent prestige to the 20th Century when installed:
October 25, 1910 was day of celebrating a monumental accomplishment, for York First Moravian (as it became known as ‘First’ in 1906, as 2 off-chute Moravian Churches were emerging in the growth of greater York) recognized the steady growth of its congregation and its placement in York’s history being the third oldest Church in York. The present edifice being its third structure (the Princess Street stone Gemeinhaus erected 1755, the second facility built 1828, demolished 1866 with parts of that structure woven into the present Duke Street building) owing to York’s prosperity by the present day structure at 39 North Duke Street; today’s facility was completed and dedicated in October 1868, with 4 successive remodeling improvements prior to the October 1910 retrofit as we recognize it today.
In 1866, the Congregation determined to remove to a new locale from the initial site where York Moravians set up their Worship place in 1755, in great part to a gift of land by the Heckendorn Family at South Water (now known as Pershing) Street & West Princess Street (then known as Prince Street). A stone structure, the first stone church in York Borough at the time was erected (1755). This facility served as a church until 1828, when a 2-bay wide by 6-bay deep ‘Moravian styled’ structure with bell tower was built on the corner. On this site also included a cemetery for the Moravian members – being buried in what is known as the ‘choir system’. 1866 saw incredible change in York – including the emergence of industry, for across Princess Street was established the John Motter Factory, including factory, foundry and works, and other companies’ shops. It was decided to relocate to capture a more residential setting.
Choice of a lot at the former Leitner Tract – situated at lands adjacent to Philip and Samuel Small’s many tracts and townhomes off East Market St., and also near Dr. Alexander Blair’s fine Greek Revival manse was Leitner’s lands which was an orchard parcel. Work commenced in 1867 on the foundations for the front floorplate of the Moravian Church at North Duke Street. The structure was designed by York Architect Edward Havilland, whose father John Havilland also was an architect (whose work included the 1800 Harrisburg State Capital edifice and a contemporary to Moravian bred Benjamin LaTrobe). Edw. Havilland’s work dots York’s terrain, for 2 other churches emulate York First – the Otterbein United Methodist Church, and the former Duke Street M.E. Church at College Avenue. In October 1868, a dedicatory Lovefeast commemorated completion of the Church building. In 1871, 1885, 1895 and 1899 alterations and improvements were applied to the stately Italianate building. However conviction to make it ‘state of the art’ was in the works for the first decade of the 20th century.
In 1910, notable families within the fabric of York First at this time included Smalls, Brillingers, Lanius and Smith to name a few. To refine the facility was tantamount to creating a space of opulence and serenity for Worship: the firm of John & Reinhardt Dempwolf (Reinhardt located at 123 East Philadelphia Street, the present-day William Goodridge House) took on the commission with the entrusted aid of glass artist John Horace Rudy of York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; J. H. Rudy was neighbors with C. Elmer Smith on 500 block of Linden Avenue, and was thrust into the mix for this setting: removal of old, frosted glass and hanging lighting units and trey ceiling was abandoned to a refined and open barrel vault ceiling cove lighting system (an innovation in York in 1910), juxtaposed with the rococo rich motif of the Rudy Brothers stained glass window units in the sanctuary, the Sunday school rooms, the Pastor’s study and entry and incidental doors and other sashes.
Not to be compromised was Dempwolf’s infusion of neo-Grecian arches, as was the typical 3-bay setting in majority of Moravian Churches, but adding heavy gothic furnishings to the Pulpit, including masters-chairs flanking the Altar and a walnut pulpit of same motif. In addition, a walnut communion table with the ‘spirit door’ footrail was added, as was an Anglican styled bapistry. The organ was relocated to north east corner, and on opposing side of the Chancelry the Nicene Creed styled by Watt & Brothers of York emulating the colors of the nave windows. With a new platform and altar, Rudy’s most impressive creation stands over the altar: “Christ of the Road to Emmaus”. To counterbalance this, the motif the Beauchamp H. Smith window of the Canter bury Cross with arts-and-crafts lilies and circular band of ribbon (Christ’s gold sash as described in the book of Revelation)graces both the upper Narthex and façade alike. This window involved removing a rose style window and double sashes, a lower ceiling to allow for a higher window rise, and widening to the pier width(s) to allow for a most imposing window unit – an engineering feat for this pier also is the base structure for the steeple & bell tower.
The exterior was sternly remodeled to lessen the Italianate feel and infusion of English motif with sandstone quoining, new portico with beveled glass doors and large steeple brackets at the cornice of the belfry. The brick was painted a slate grey crossover to a neo-Grecian and Anglican structure, as a number of York’s churches did at the same period. The results were (and are yet) stunning!
The Smith Family is a well-revered Family within the roles of York First Moravian, as Patriarch Stephen Morgan Smith served as Pastor from 1861 to 1866; and married daughter of the congregation, Miss Emma Fahs. Today descendents of this family yet are in active worship at York First. S. Morgan & Emma had 6 children, one of whom was Beauchamp Harvey Smith, born October 26, 1869 in Canal, Ohio. Upon his Father retiring from active Pulpit supply in 1871, owing to a throat ailment that ended public preaching — the family returned to York and S. M. Smith, established as manufacturer of the patented Success Washing Machine in 1870 was President of the York Manufacturing Company.
Within 8 years Stephen would establish in name the company of S. Morgan Smith as a result to innovation of the Bollinger Water Wheel to which the effort was mutually shared by S. M. Smith and Bollinger. By 1896, Stephen Morgan Smith turned the burgeoning company duties over to the handling by his 6 children; Beauchamp H. serving as President of the firm. Beauchamp Harvey, as like his father held health concerns: Beauchamp Harvey decided to rescind his title in the company, and relocated to Los Angeles, California in early 1900, favoring the better climate conditions. While in Los Angeles, Beauchamp served as agent to S. M. Smith on the west coast, and continued to decline health-wise. In late 1902, his Father & Mother came for an extended visit with their bachelor son – remaining there until Easter Sunday 1903, when Rev. S. Morgan Smith succumbed to his failing health.
Beauchamp would outlive his Father for only 1-1/2 years, dying on November 1, 1905 (All Saints Day). Both Father S. Morgan and son Beauchamp are interred at Prospect Hill at the Smith Family Circle monument. The legacy of Remembrance is retained in this uniquely crafted window – a credit to the generosity of the Smith Family for their rich gift of this treasure, to John Horace Rudy for his impeccable style and artistry, and the benefactors of First Moravian’s congregants past & present – who see the value in these treasures to not abandon them for a new Church locale – but to remain steadfast for the work God has for them yet on North Duke Street.
Also of interest:
- All York Town Square posts from the start. (Key word search by using “find” on browser.)
- Previous posts on First Moravian or its historic windows.