Celebrating the Historic Plymouth Congregational Church: 1870-2020

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Plymouth Architect: John Gideon Haskell

Celebrating the Historic Plymouth Congregational Church 1870-2020


Table of Contents Pages 2



John Haskell, Nineteenth Century Kansas Architect Susan McCarthy


History of the 1870 Building in the Plymouth Complex Kay Bradt


Three Buildings on the South Side of Plymouth Bill James


The History of the North Church Kay Bradt


Fires! Kay Bradt


Plymouth Frescoes Susan McCarthy


The Organs Kay Bradt


Stained-glass Windows at Plymouth Susan McCarthy

The cover photo of John Haskell is from the collection of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas, and is reprinted with their permission.


FOREWARD: “Celebrating the Historic Plymouth Congregational Church, 1870-2020” This publication was prepared for members of Plymouth Church in celebration of the 150th anniversary of our historic church building. The building designed by renowned Kansas architect, John Gideon Haskell, opened its doors for worship on May 22, 1870. Since that date, it has served its original function continuously as a place to gather to worship God. Members of the History Committee of Plymouth wanted to tell the story of the historic church through this publication. You will find articles about the architect, articles about the original structure, the stained-glass windows, the frescoes, and the organs. We considered such questions as what brought the congregation to the point of needing a new church and why was it located on Vermont Street? How was the money raised and how were the hundreds of choices made in how to furnish the church? We did not find the answers to all those questions. Unfortunately, our predecessors in the 19th century did not leave behind notes about many details we wish we knew today. Or if they did, those documents have been lost over the years. But by searching our records and papers written by members, the press, the public, we have assembled what we hope is a coherent picture of how the original building came to fruition. During the 150 years the historic building has been standing, it has been adversely affected by weather, has deteriorated as all structures do over time, has suffered from disastrous fires and has become outdated due to continued growth of the congregation and pressures of modernization. While the main historic structure has been altered in some ways—central heating and air conditioning were installed, for instance, and the balcony and chancel area have changed for various reasons. It is the areas to the north and south sides of the historic structure that have undergone truly remarkable changes. Those changes have included additions and expansions over the years. We will tell those stories in this publication too. With the exception of several events beyond the control of its members, such as in 1955 fire which destroyed the Parish House forcing the congregation to move its services to Haskell Institute for several months or during the summers when services were held in the park because of the heat, worship has continued largely uninterrupted in the historic church. Now we must add another event that was beyond our control to that list. In this year of the 150th anniversary of the historic building, cessation of regular in-person worship services was caused because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Yet without skipping a beat, beginning on March 15th of 2020, worship services from the sanctuary were held every week by Senior Pastor Valerie Miller Coleman and Assistant Paster Caroline Lawson Dean, as Plymouth members and guests participated via the Internet from the safety of their homes. The Pandemic prevented the planned celebration of the historic structure in 2020 too. But we have taken this in stride given the postponement of other such important celebrations across the country and around the world. Once in person services are allowed to safely resume in our beloved sanctuary, that celebration will go forward. This publication is a part of the tribute. Susan McCarthy, Historian


John Haskell, Nineteenth Century Kansas Architect By Susan McCarthy

Figure 1: John Haskell, photo from about 1850

John Gideon Haskell was the best-known Kansas architect of the nineteenth century. His fingerprints can be found on many of the most notable buildings in the state from that period including the Kansas State Capitol, various churches, university buildings, residences and commercial buildings. Around eighty buildings across the state, many designed in partnership with Louis M. Wood and other assistants, bear his imprint. Many buildings of course, are no longer standing but in an unscientific accounting I came up with around twenty-five which still exist in one form or another. Figure 2: Louis M. Wood,

Figure 3: Franklin Haskell, father of John Haskell

John was born to Franklin and architect Almira Haskell on February 5, 1832, in Milton, Vermont. (See figures 3 and 4) Milton is a town near Burlington in the northwest part of the state. The family did not stay in this area for long, moving back to southwestern Vermont and eventually to central Massachusetts where John’s mother originated. But by this time, John aged eleven, was already out of the house and on his own. His first job was working for a farmer, then he found employment in a button factory and about the age of seventeen, he learned the carpentry trade from Edmund Jones of Wilbraham, Massachusetts. Wesleyan Academy in Middletown, Connecticut, was relatively close by and John began his education there at the age of 21 with the goal of becoming an architect. After completing the courses, he enrolled at Brown University in Rhode Island to bolster his knowledge of math, science, and engineering.

While John was studying at Brown, his father joined the New England Emigrant Aid Company, a society formed in Massachusetts with the goal to keep Kansas from becoming a slave state after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The group first sent a party of settlers to Lawrence in August of 1854; Franklin Haskell was in the second group which arrived on September 9, 1854. As one of the earliest settlers, he was elected to the Council of the Lawrence Association of Kansas Territory and awarded a 160-acre claim. The rest of the Haskell family except for son John, followed in the spring of 1855. Franklin was one of the original ten settlers including, Oliver A Hanscome, Anna Tappan (later Hanscome), Joseph Savage, Samuel C Pomeroy, Charles H Dickson, Lewis and Cora Litchfield, SY and Carrie Lum, who organized Plymouth Congregational Church on October 15, 1854. Most members of the Haskell family also joined the church.


Figure 4: Almira Haskell, mother of John Haskell, photo courtesy of Watkins Museum of History

After finishing his studies at Brown University, John Haskell got a job in Boston where he made partner within the first year. However, family matters soon called him to Kansas. His father’s health had deteriorated and Franklin died of “inflammation of the bowels” in January of 1857. John did not make the move until five months after his father’s death, in July, for reasons that are not completely clear. His mother was left destitute by the death of her husband with a 14 year old son, Dudley, to raise. Besides establishing his career, the twenty-five year old John Haskell faced the prospect of helping his mother and taking care of the family land claim, an acreage of farm land but also woods and rolling hills now located west of Haskell Avenue and north of 15th Street. In 1857, the Haskell claim was about one and a half miles from the center of Lawrence.

Haskell expected to find work first as a carpenter and then build up to working as an architect. But within a few months of his arrival, he posted a notice in the newspaper advertising his architectural services, rented an office, and found work. Haskell was not the only architect in the early days of Lawrence—P.H. Randolph and Ferdinand Fuller were two others. Haskell accepted commissions where he could find them which often meant leaving the city for a job or it meant acting as a “superintendent,” the one who ordered the materials, checked on the trades involved in the building and drew up the plans. He also got involved in local politics as he was elected in 1858 to be one of twelve councilmen in the new town of Lawrence. Haskell served just one term but his involvement in local government revealed he was planning to make Lawrence his permanent home, a fact that was not clear when he first arrived in the small town. Yet, he did not join his family in worshipping at Plymouth. Instead, along with five other men, John signed the constitution for the Unitarian Church of Lawrence in 1858 and became a member of the building committee for that church. Since he worshipped as a Unitarian in college, he may have been drawn to the Unitarian Church in Lawrence where he remained as a member until 1861. John had met his future wife, Mary Elizabeth Bliss, while at school in Massachusetts. She was the daughter of a family he had roomed with. Although he had moved away, the two remained in contact and eventually in December of 1859, Haskell returned to Massachusetts to marry Elizabeth. Her family were Congregationalists and that factor may have been enough to convince him to sever his ties with the Unitarians and join his family in worshipping at Plymouth. Yet John had a problem in agreeing to the Articles of Faith proscribed for members of the church. Instead of joining the church outright, he first participated in the Society of the Plymouth Congregational Church which was a separate organization but affiliated with the church. When he became a member of this Society, he was also elected to be a Trustee of the church. By late 1860, John and Elizabeth were settling down. They rented a house on Pinckney Street (6th Street) where John also opened his new office. Then two events disrupted their lives—the Drought of 1859/1860 and the looming war. Haskell joined relief efforts to distribute seed, clothing, and provisions as part of the New England Kansas Relief Committee. This put Haskell into position to continue working

5 as an administrative assistant during the Civil War for General Collamore, an early mayor of Lawrence. John was later appointed as an assistant army quartermaster and then commissioned as a regional quartermaster of the 3rd Regiment. President Lincoln appointed Haskell as Quartermaster in the Volunteer Army; subsequently he was commissioned as a captain assigned to the staff of General Blunt. After four years in the army, John resumed life in Lawrence by bringing his wife and baby daughter back home from Massachusetts. Elizabeth had remained in Lawrence with John until after Quantrill’s Raid and then, pregnant with their first child, left to stay with Elizabeth’s family for the remainder of the war. John rented a house for the family on New York Street and bought a half lot on Massachusetts Street where his architecture office would be located for the next fifteen years. Then Haskell landed the opportunity of his young career—a chance to design the state Figure 5: Photo of sign from John Haskell's architecture office house building of Kansas. During the Civil War, a committee of Plymouth members had gathered to consider building a new structure to house the growing congregation. Not much headway was made until after the war when on November 29, 1867, the Trustees, including the newly elected John Haskell, were tasked with preparing plans for a new church—one that was designated not to cost more than $15,000. A resolution offered by S.O. Simpson stated that the trustees prepare a plan for the church and a plan for raising the money. In December of 1867, three church members, one of whom was John’s brother Dudley, W. A. Simpson, and S. O. Thatcher, were appointed to figure out the finances and find the best location for the new church. Most church members felt they had little money to contribute for a new building, especially considering the aftermath of Quantrill’s Raid and the devastation caused by the recent Civil War. But Haskell who was already making drawings counseled members that for even a relatively plain structure, angles, projections and towers could be added to increase the aesthetic interest. With the assurance that “beauty costs no more than ugliness” members gave him permission to proceed with his plans. After reaching out to the congregation, the committee reported several months later that $9,000 had been pledged with an additional $1,000 pledged in work on the building. The finance committee proposed that an additional $7,000 be raised by issuing bonds, to be repaid in ten years. The stone church at Pinckney and Louisiana Streets, which had served the congregation from May of 1857 until the new church was built, was offered to the city. The church would get to deduct a discount on bonds that were necessary to secure its sale. The “house” as it was referred to in the notes of the Society, was thereafter known as the “First Ward School.” This basic financial plan was endorsed by the larger building committee on which John served. The next major task was to find suitable land for the new church. The Society chose four lots on Vermont Street between Warren and Dudley (9th and 10th streets) in February of 1868. By July of that year, the plans were complete. The stone contractors and brick masons had been selected. Seventy new members had also joined the church. What other structures were nearby the site on Vermont Street when construction began? The Plymouth building was one of the first large churches to be built in the state of Kansas. One of the most well circulated photographs of Plymouth shows the completed church. Across the street where Wheatfields Café is now located, a private residence had a fenced-in yard with a cow grazing on the front lawn. The First United Methodist Church, currently situated across the street at 10th and Vermont, was designed in 1888 in the Romanesque Revival style, with Haskell serving as its architect. Trinity Episcopal Church at the end of the block at 10th and Vermont, preceded the construction of the Plymouth building

6 because their original structure first appeared on that plot in 1859. The construction of their permanent church building was begun just after Plymouth was completed in 1870. Throughout his career Haskell employed several different architectural styles for his buildings which seemed to be the trend among American architects. In the middle of 19th century America, architectural styles had gone through the Greek Revival or Classical Revival phase favored for many state capitol buildings, including Haskell’s design for the Kansas Capitol. Following the Civil War, the Victorian style was popular including many variants such as Italianate, Gothic and Romanesque. The Romanesque Revival style featured round arches, the use of bricks while the Gothic Revival featured more gables, stained-glass, sloped roofs and the pointed arch. Haskell’s use of the Romanesque Revival style can be seen in several buildings still standing in Lawrence: the First Methodist Church from 1888, the Castle Tea Room (1894) and the Douglas County Courthouse, designed by Haskell and built in 1903. Figure 6: Plymouth Congregational Church about 1870

The style Haskell employed for Plymouth is probably closest to the “Gothic Revival- Romanesque Revival,” also called the “Lombard Gothic.” One feature which is characteristic of this style which Haskell employed in his design were the towers which were decorative but also partly functional. Originally there were two projecting gables with towers—one on the north and one on the south side. After being damaged by a fire, these towers were Figure 7: Two photos (above and right) taken removed in 1936. from the front of Plymouth Church, 2019. But the towers and spires, which still remain, were part of Haskell’s plan to bring a little more aesthetic interest to a very basic building plan. Features of the Romanesque found in the Plymouth building include the use of brick for both structural and ornamental purposes, brick dressed with limestone lintels and limestone “hood mantels” around the arched window openings. From the Gothic style, contributions are the steeply pitched roof, the rose window and the buttresses we find at Plymouth. A hand carved round white marble plaque of a slain lamb beneath a cross with a wreath is mounted just below the rose window. On the perimeter of this plaque are the words, Plymouth Congregational Church, 1868—the year construction began on the building. A widely available book of plans across the country published by the Congregationalists in 1853 included schemes for church and parish designs. It is thought that Haskell made use of the book in determining his final design. He added several features which may not fit under any particular style but go perfectly with his design such as the gabled roof over the porch and the four thin spires. In other words, Haskell designed a church which fit the requirements and budget set forth by the congregation, worked

7 with the site plan, and revealed his own aesthetic vision. Rather than trying to replicate an exact style or copy a plan already in existence, Haskell created a unique style for Plymouth Congregational Church. In 1868 as the building was being constructed, members kept adding more features to the plans which increased the costs. The add-ons included stained-glass windows, constructing the pews out of walnut instead of a less expensive wood, ornamental chandeliers, a fancier pipe organ and frescoes for the ceilings. These additions drove up the costs so that by the winter of 1869-1870, all the funds were depleted and yet the building was incomplete. Rather than leave the church in an unfinished state while more money was raised, the decision was made to borrow an additional $7,500. The building was then completed as quickly as possible. The final expenditure for the building and plots was $35,000. Furnishings cost $3,000 and the organ was $3,500, adding another $6,500, to the total costs. The building was insured for $25,000 when it was opened to the public. Considering Haskell’s design of the interior of the church; from the main portals. there are two equally sized vestibules, more commonly called the north and south parlors, each measuring 25 feet by 20 feet. From the parlors there was originally one set of double doors leading directly into the sanctuary. These doors were blocked in 1992 when two new double doors, one to the south of the original doors and one to the north, were added to meet ADA requirements. The central audience hall or sanctuary is covered by a horizontal ceiling, sixty feet wide. The original walls were plastered on the top section with wooden wainscoting below. Instead of one central aisle which is characteristic of many Christian churches, there are double aisles at Plymouth. Three sections of west facing pews in the sanctuary make up the audience room which measures 86 feet by 60 feet. The pulpit was located on a raised platform. The current lights in the sanctuary are not original. Eighty gas fixtures were once installed throughout the church with four six-lighted chandeliers and twenty-four wall brackets in the sanctuary. Plymouth Congregational Church was dedicated on May 22, 1870. Among the notaries in attendance at the ceremony were President Charles W. Eliot of Harvard and Charles Francis Adams, supporter of the free-state cause. All seats were filled with around 1,500 people in the audience. Many local churches cancelled their services so that members could attend the Plymouth dedication. After a sermon of about an hour in length delivered by Rev. Sturtevant of Illinois, a financial statement was delivered about how much had been expended on the church and what bills remained outstanding. An appeal was then made to those assembled at the Dedication to help raise the funds to pay off the “floating” debt (as opposed to the long-term loan debt of $7,500.) Six prominent Plymouth members Figure 8: Haskell family home at 1340 Haskell Ave. Photo each donated $500 that day and members of other courtesy of Watkins Museum of History churches also contributed. Over $7,000 was raised at the dedicatory service, which covered all the outstanding bills with enough left over to grade the plot and pay for some additional gas fixtures. After completion of his first church, John Haskell, then about age 40, and his wife and two daughters were living in a brick house on the family acreage, figure 8, with his brother Dudley living next door. John Haskell was becoming prosperous but was not yet in the top group of income earners in Lawrence. He was getting plenty of work, much of it from the University of Kansas. For instance, in 1870, Fraser Hall which he designed, was under construction. A number of schools in Topeka and Lawrence, as well as churches and more university buildings occupied him through the 1870s.


Figure 9: John Haskell, photo taken for the GAR in about 1898. Photo courtesy of Watkins Museum of History

Even though John Haskell played a pivotal role in building the new church, he was still not a full member of Plymouth when our church was finished. The author of a “Memorial” to Haskell remembers that in 1871, John was examined in front of the entire Plymouth congregation about his beliefs. “The questions asked of him were searching, but his answers were full and frank. He was particularly anxious that the church should know just what he believed, and he kept nothing back.” John finally became a member of Plymouth on March 1, 1871, when he agreed to abide by the Articles of Faith. Thereafter Haskell became a pillar of the church—he was elected three times as a delegate to the National Council of Congregational Churches. He was Superintendent of the Sunday School for many years. He was a long serving member of the Board of Trustees. For 18 years he was a director on the Board of the Kansas Home Missionary Society. But perhaps John Haskell will be best remembered by our congregation for being the architect of the church building that still stands straight and strong 150 years later, with the same name---Plymouth Congregational Church of Lawrence, Kansas.

Sources for article: “Congregational Church Dedication Services Sunday,” May 22, 1870, copied from the Lawrence Daily Journal World microfilm files. Crandall, LuRaye S., “The Architectural Sources of Plymouth Congregational Church, Lawrence, Kansas.” Academic paper prepared for Dr. Marilyn Stokstad, History of Art, 308, Submitted, December 8, 1968. Kennedy, Ted and Grace, “Plymouth Congregational Church—1854-1954,” Lawrence Journal World, “A Wonderful Old Lawrence,” E.F. Rowe. National Register of Historic Places Application, Plymouth Congregational Church, Peterson, John M., “John G. Haskell—Pioneer Kansas Architect,” The Douglas County Historical Society, Lawrence, Kansas, 1984. Sheridan, Richard B., editor and compiler “Historic Plymouth Congregational Church and the Reverend Richard Cordley, D.O.” Lawrence, Kansas for the church, September 20, 1994.


History of the 1870 Building in the Plymouth Complex By Kay Bradt The central building of Plymouth Congregational Church, built in 1870, is the oldest section of the current church, but it was not the original church. Plymouth was established in 1854 in the hay tent, known as the Pioneer Boarding House, by Oliver A Hanscome, Anna Tappan (later Hanscome), Joseph Savage, Samuel C Pomeroy, Charles H Dickson, Franklin Haskell, Lewis and Cora Litchfield, Samuel Y and Carrie Lum. SY Lum was invited to be the pastor for one year, although he served for over two years. After the hay tent burned, they met over Faxon’s Meat Market; James D Faxon was a stalwart of Plymouth. SN Simpson and Rev Lum traveled east to raise money to build a church -- $3,000 from churches and $1,000 was given by Amos A Lawrence, after whom Lawrence was named. It took five years and $4,000 more to finish. It was dedicated on November 16, 1862.

Figure 10. The ravine. (Douglas County Historical Society, Watkins Museum of History.

The Stone Church, as the first church was called, was located at 6th & Louisiana. That presented a problem. The ravine, where Buford Watson Park (or the train park) is now, separated Plymouth from downtown and much of the residential part of town. The problem was that there was not a good crossing over the ravine; churchgoers had to go on a muddy road much of the time and when the rain was heavy, they would have had to wade. Eventually, the ravine was filled in. But at the time, they found a more convenient place on Vermont Street.

Richard Cordley wrote in his Historical Sketch of Plymouth Congregational Church, Lawrence Kansas, 1854-1893, that two ideas were circulating among the congregation. One was for a large, plain church – four walls, no ornamentation. The other was for an elegant church of which they would not be ashamed in the future. John Haskell, a future member of Plymouth who served as the state architect, proposed designing a church with four walls and a roof, adding to it “an air of taste.” This was accepted. Edward Kimball raised money for a new organ; the ladies funded carpets, cushions, gas lights, etc.; frescoes and stained-glass windows were added. That shot the cost up to $35,000 for the building, and $6,500 for the organ and furnishings.

Figure 10. Plymouth in the 1870s. (Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, KS).

10 The sanctuary occupied most of the building. The choir loft and the organ were behind the chancel and the stairs to the loft were in the back hall. The stairs to the front of the choir loft would not be built until 1888. Over the choir loft were seven frescoes illustrating the life of Jesus. Under the choir loft were the pastor’s study and the Sunday School library. There were pews to either side of the chancel, as well as the pews facing the front. The four chandeliers were gas lights as were the sconces between the windows. The back balcony (or gallery, as it was called then) was furnished with pews from the old Stone Church. It wasn’t as spacious as it is now, because there was a big lecture room behind it and over the narthex which was used for meeting, Wednesday night prayer Figure 12:. Interior, 1897. (Plymouth History Room). services, and Sunday school. The narthex consisted of a central entryway and north and south parlors. The back door to the sanctuary was in the middle – you can still see it. The lecture room and parlors were used for meetings, Sunday school, and social events. In a letter to the Lawrence Daily Journal in 1886 about city beautification, titled “Cow and Hog Question,” Plymouth was criticized for the ugliness of its grounds. Two years later, the congregation raised over $3,000 to improve the building and grounds. The lots to either side were planted with grass, flowers, and trees. The stairs and sidewalk were replaced, and a curb was installed. They replaced the roof and painted the church inside and out. The frescoes had “given way to the Kalsominer’s art” (whitewashed). The chancel was enlarged, and stairs were built at Figure 13:. Pews from the Stone Church. (Douglas the front of the choir loft. County Historical Society, Watkins Museum of History).

In 1899 the congregation voted to do away with pew rentals. Prior to that, there would be an auction, after a church supper, of course. A committee would set the starting bids depending on location – the most expensive pews were halfway back, and the front and back pews were cheaper. To identify the pews, brass numbers were placed on them. That was the way the church raised the money for routine costs – the salaries of the minister, musicians, organ boy, and janitor and the bills for coal, gas, printing, etc. To finance the maintenance of the building the Ladies Social Circle and Plymouth Daughters by hosting teas and dinners, having rummage and food sales, and selling “fancy work” and food at their annual bazaar. The “benevolences” were raised by the Women’s Missionary Society, the Young People’s Society for Christian Endeavor, and other shorter-lived groups. In 1900 it all changed; people pledged money for the routine costs of the church.

11 The clock that hangs on the balcony was given to Plymouth on February 12, 1912, when the Pilgrim Congregational Church at 3rd & Elm Streets in North Lawrence merged with Plymouth, “to be kept by it forever.” It had been given to Pilgrim Church in 1865 by the children of Home School, New Gloucester, Maine where Rev JF Morgan, the founding pastor of Pilgrim Church had served.

Figure 14. Clock from the Pilgrim Congregational Church, North Lawrence.

Mass production of automobiles started in 1913, by 1922 there were enough cars that the fire department complained that they couldn’t get the fire trucks through Vermont Street fast enough on Sunday mornings because of all the church parking on the street – the Methodist, Plymouth, Trinity Episcopal, and First Presbyterian churches. Plymouth put a parking lot on the north side of the church. I suspect it wasn’t paved, because in 1929 they bought 20 loads of brick for the parking lot.

On the outside, the north and south towers were entrances and housed the stairs to the balcony. You can still see the old north door although you can’t go in and out of it. Plymouth with its towers and spires was one of the tallest buildings in town, so it was prone to damage from wind and lightning. The spires had to be repaired about every ten years. In 1903 two of the spires were blown over. In 1909 one of the same spires was blown over in a blizzard and was replaced. In 1940 and 2006 downed spires were blown down. The 2006 incident was caused by a microburst on a Sunday morning at 8:10 am. On March 13, 2006, the Lawrence Journal World reported that Peter Luckey, pastor of Plymouth, said there was “a loud noise. At the same time, there was a very precipitous drop in the air pressure. It made my ears pop…” The Lawrence Daily Journal on May 11, 1905 referred to a “rattling good rain” that took down the chimneys on the south side of Plymouth; roofs were blown off all over town; and, speculation that it might have been a tornado. “Electrical wires were somewhat demoralized this morning…” After the south tower fire of 1936, which was difficult to put out, the congregation voted to remove both towers. Reaching hard-of-hearing and home-bound people in the worship service was important. In 1911 Plymouth installed a phone on the pulpit so home-bound people could call in and hear the sermon. The next year they put phones in the pews for hard-of-hearing people. In 1928 WREN broadcast the services. Rev Alfred Grey had to move his sermon up earlier in the worship service, so he wouldn’t be cut off. Acousticon hearing aids were offered for the service in 1937. Acousticon shut down in 1939, so the headphones were not replaced when they ceased to work. A new hearing assist system was installed in 1981. For the 90th Anniversary (1944), the North Parlor was made into a conference/library/history room so that the boards would have a place to meet -- they had met recently in the Colonial Tearoom at 936 Kentucky St and at the cafeteria at Haskell. The woodwork in the sanctuary was refreshed and the walls were painted.

Figure 15. Acousticon Carbon Hearing Aid. General Acoustic Co. (Wikimedia.org).

After World War II, Plymouth had enormous growth and revitalization. From 1951 to 1954 there was a three-year plan to expand the church space by remodeling the Parish House (South Church) and renovating the basement of the 1870 building. The basement had a dirt floor. Mules and a scraper were

12 used to excavate one foot of the dirt. They installed a cement floor, replaced the foundation, built two doors, and replaced the brick columns with steel to support the floor of the sanctuary. The lecture room was replaced by the Althaus Chapel. The most serious disaster was the 1955 fire. It started in the Parish House. The attic of the 1870 building caught fire and it blackened the trusses. It was remarkable that there was mostly smoke damage to the original building because it was about twelve feet from the Parish House. After the fire, the organ was cleaned and repaired, the choir robes were cleaned, and Plymouth members scrubbed the pews with steel wool and cleaned up generally. In the nineteenth century and the early twentieth, Plymouth and other churches would worship in South Park in the hottest months. Air conditioning was first mentioned in the minutes in 1955, although I suspect it was considered in committee meetings earlier. At any rate, it was not installed until the renovation of 1968 when the ceiling and sound system were replaced, the wood paneling (wainscotting) was refinished in the sanctuary and painted in the narthex, and the chancel was widened. While the chancel was being rebuilt Carl Althaus found some original square nails and made them into crosses. These are the crosses that the pastors and the moderators wear when they are serving. Sometime after that a lectern was added to the chancel. In anticipation of the sesquicentennial of the founding of church in 1854, the Second Century project was initiated in 1989 with the goal that: By 2004 the Plymouth sanctuary will have been completely restored. Remodeling, revitalization, and new construction will house the fellowship, educational, community outreach, and administrative needs of the church for the first quarter of the 21st century. In the 1990s the parlors were opened up and the ceiling was raised. Underneath the crown molding was found stenciling, maybe put in place in 1905. The library was moved to what is known now as the Heritage Room. The clock from Pilgrim Church was rediscovered as well as the Berea Sunday school posters which were framed and hung all over the church. Two Figure 16. Images of the sanctuary under doors were built into the sanctuary, aligned renovation with the aisles; the central door was permanently closed, although it was redesigned to let light into the back of the sanctuary. Much of the work was restoring and stabilizing the structure of old building, the balcony was stabilized, trusses were strengthened, the exterior was tuckpointed, and the front steps were re-designed. In 2008, the windows were cleaned, re-leaded and protected against hail and wind. Another major repair occurred in 2012 when a collar tie in the attic sprung loose. It hit the “underside of the roof, causing a visible bulge in the roof…” The damage caused us to look closely at the attic. The wood was very dry after a century and a half and the facilities committee had the collar ties rebolted and wrapped to strengthen them. Plymouth Congregational church was listed on the Kansas Inventory of Historic Resources in 2006 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, after the Lawrence Commercial District was put on the Register in 2004. It is listed as an “eccentric” Victorian building, but its importance was

13 the role it played in the history of the Kansas territory and state and the community of Lawrence from the Civil War to the present.

Sources Plymouth Congregational Church of Lawrence, Kansas records, Kansas Collection, RH MS 181, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas. Lawrence Daily Journal The Daily Kansas Tribune


The Three Buildings on the South Side of Plymouth By Bill James The membership of the church in 1868 had proposed a simple, box-like structure for the church, in order to keep costs down. The architect, John G. Haskell, suggested that by adding to the plan some “towers and projections and angles he (could) give it an air of taste.” On the south side of the historic structure, originally there was one of these projections (matched on the north side.) It was a tower that contained the staircase giving access to the audience gallery in the sanctuary. Actually, beauty DID cost a little more than ugliness; various things were added to the plan, which created cost overruns leading to significant debt for the church in its early years. According to Reverend Cordley’s Historical Sketch of Plymouth Congregational Church, Lawrence, Kansas, 18541893, “In front, on each side of the main entrances, are the ladies’ parlors each 25 by 20 feet. Above the parlors is the lecture room, sixty by twenty feet. This is used for weekday meetings and for the primary department of the Sunday school. A tower on each side contains the stairs to the lecture room and audience gallery.” The towers ran on up into the air, breaking up the silhouette of the roof. The “audience gallery” is what we now call the balcony, at that time providing seating for those who attended the church but were not members. Also according to Reverend Cordley, “the church building had become very dilapidated” by 1888, and was “repaired and improved at that time.” Despite the 1888 repairs, by 1915 the south tower was in such a state of disrepair as to be almost unusable. The steps the children climbed to get to their area were narrow, rickety, and dangerous. Access to the tower above it was precarious, and the structure was a fire trap. Plymouth’s pastor, Reverend Noble Elderkin, essentially demanded that the church replace the structure. Church membership had grown tremendously under Elderkin’s leadership, and agreement on the necessity to replace the south tower was a fairly easy decision. A distinguished panel was appointed to overlook the project, the panel including no less than three Kansas University professors who would eventually have buildings on campus named in their honor. By this time, the church desperately needed additional space for Sunday school and a place for social work to take place. In April of 1915, a decision was reached to build a new Parish House, however, the church divided into a prolonged confrontation over whether to build the new building NORTH of the church, as the committee wanted, or SOUTH of the church, as the members overwhelmingly preferred. This battle lasted months, but eventually the decision was made to build on the South Side. According to the 1994 publication Historic Plymouth Congregational Church and The Reverend Richard Cordley, D. D.: In 1916 the congregation exerted a mighty effort and provided a Parish House. The women of the church were truly grateful for this effort because no longer would it be necessary to feed hundreds of people under makeshift conditions. Dishes could be washed in a civilized manner! With the Parish House came new activities to Plymouth. Young people met more regularly and with better attendance. The Sunday school rooms offered children some privacy for their classes and a chance to get away from the “blab-school” effect of all classes in one room.


Figure 17: “Laying of the cornerstone” ceremony for the Parish House in 1915.

The Parish House was dedicated on October 1, 1916. Reverend Elderkin, his position weakened by the battle over the Parish House and other issues, left Plymouth three months later. The new building had a large dining room and kitchen on the first floor accommodating many church suppers. The second floor housed the Sunday School classrooms and auditorium. Concerts, recitals and various meetings for church members as well as community events took place in the large auditorium. As shown in Figure 20, an annual bazaar was Figure 18: The Parish House, south of the historic building held in the auditorium. Baked goods, sewing, collectibles were sold. During the war, the Parish House Figure 19: Sunday School class at opened the third floor for recreational purposes for servicemen and social Plymouth dressed up to perform a play events associated with the War Camp Community Service program.


Figure 20: The annual Plymouth Bazaar, held in October of 1952 in the Parish House. Ruth Althaus is shown in foreground left. The auditorium was also where Plymouth women gathered to collect fabric, yarn and other supplies which were then sent to refugees and to the military. Later, on Friday nights, there was something called a “Fun Fest” held for the youth in the Parish House. Entertainment and refreshments were provided and on average, 150 junior high youths attended each week. The Parish House was three stories high. At 3:25 AM on September 23, 1955, all three stories were discovered to be engulfed in flames. It was essentially a total loss, with the damage estimated at $200,000 (equivalent to about $2 million in 2021.) Although the church was well insured, this was nonetheless a costly and traumatic event. The church services were held for two months in the Auditorium at Haskell Institute while work was progressing to make the sanctuary usable again after smoke and water damage. The church was strong at that time, however, under the leadership of the very capable Pastor, Dale Turner. Lawrence population was booming, and the church was growing. Combining the insurance money with $150,000 generated from a fund drive, the decision was made (1) to restore the Parish House, (2) to purchase land and the houses north of the church, and (3) to build the North Church, where the Mayflower Room and the Heritage Room are today. A two-story addition to the Parish House was authorized as well. This was constructed on the west side along the alley and it measured twenty feet in length. After the disastrous fire, a fireproof roof, made of reinforced “perlite” concrete was installed over the newly reconstructed Parish House.

17 In the Pastorate of Butch Henderson (19731986), the church began a fundraising drive which raised more money than had been spent by the time Henderson left Plymouth for another church. For almost seven years, Plymouth sat on the nest egg under a series of short-term pastors. When Peter Luckey assumed leadership of the church in 1995, he helped organize the “Second Century Campaign.” As part of the Second Century Campaign, the South Church was torn down and rebuilt again in the years 2000 to 2002.

Figure 21: Demolition of South Church in 2000 in preparation for building the current South Church

So the South Church/Parish House if you like, has had three incarnations 1) 1916-1955, as the Parish House, destroyed by fire in 1955. 2) 1956-2001, as the Parish House, in 1957 named the South Church. 3) 2001 to the Present, as the New South Church.


The History of the North Church by Kay Bradt The United States was in an economic boom after World War Two. The GI Bill provided low-interest mortgages and benefits for veterans attending colleges and universities. The University of Kansas and Lawrence were really growing. From the beginning of the university, Plymouth had invited college students to participate in the church. Programs like the sorority, Sigma Eta Phi, university Sunday school classes, and the Fireside Forum attracted university students. During the war the pastors, Joe King and C Fosberg Hughes, sent newsletters to servicemen who were members, or their families were members, or they just thought of Plymouth as their church. After the war, the church held a dinner for the servicemen and their wives, who had been members or attended. Shortly afterward, in 1946, they formed a very active group called the Congregators. But churches lost members during the war. In 1932, when the Great Depression hit Lawrence hard, there were 632 Plymouth members; in 1945, there were only 495. In 1950 there were 674 members and, by 1960 there were 1150. The increase of members was thought to be permanent. The church had a three-year plan from 1951 to 1954 for “repairs and improvements.” In May 1955, the Prudential Board, had another plan – to do the front of the church (organ, choir loft, and enlarge the chancel), the roof, and buy the lots to the north. After the September 23, 1955 fire damaged the Parish House a meeting was held at the 29th in the First Presbyterian Church (9th and Vermont). Work was already underway; the sanctuary would be cleaned and repaired. The Building Committee planned that the Parish House would have more rooms for the Sunday school and that a Fellowship Hall would be built to the north. Carl Althaus, chair of the committee, said that the lot north of the church would be ready in 30 days and the two houses on the lot would be available for Figure 22. Drawing of the church after the fire with the north houses that would be Sunday school. The used for Sunday School, by Ada Storer. congregation voted it in. By December 18, the Building Committee had planned what the Fellowship Hall to the north would have in it: a big dining room, a large kitchen, church parlor, choir room, and offices. In January, Rev Merle Rymph, the superintendent of the Kansas Congregational Conference, suggested a second floor with two rooms for a student center in the front and six classrooms over the offices. The Congregational Board of Home Missions gave $5,000 and loaned Plymouth $25,000 for a center for the university students.

19 By February, the Building Committee thought that the sanctuary would not be big enough for the eleven o’clock service in the sanctuary in the near future. The suggestions were to enlarge the sanctuary or to build a new church - a suburban church. The idea of a suburban church did not meet with general approval. In April, the Prudential Board (the Council) met to consider the possibilities. The wall east of the balcony was discovered to not be a structural weight-bearing wall. The room east of the balcony was the Althaus Chapel, replacing the lecture room in 1952. If that space were used instead to enlarge the balcony, it would seat 240 people, “minister to more people,” and the church estimated that it would bring in $3,000 more loose offerings annually. The Figure 23. The upper balcony. You can see the remains of the west wall of the Althaus Chapel to Board voted not to build the six classrooms but to open the the right of the door. balcony, thus bringing it into the church sanctuary to accommodate the larger congregation. However, by May 1957, the Sunday school had increased 135 pupils over the last school year. Plymouth was growing much more than anticipated. On June 2, 1957, the congregation decided to rough-in the classroom space in the North Church building with usable, but cement floors, so they could be finished as needed. The Mayflower Room was the dining room and it held 300 which was not enough. The Women’s Parlor, or the Mayflower Lounge (now known as the Heritage Room) had a folding partition which could be opened to seat an additional 100 for dining. The Mayflower south wall was a wooden wall with angular, acoustic panels. The dedication was April 20, 1958. Two men who are still in the congregation spoke in the worship service. Phil Friedman offered the children’s sermon and Bruce Linton was the Dedication Chairman. The choir sang, O Thou, Whose Own Vast Temple Stands (sung at the 1870 dedication) and We Would Be Building and How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place among other hymns. Dale Turner preached the sermon.

Figure 24. Thanksgiving Dinner in the Mayflower Room. You can see the angular wall to the left.

The first floor was remodeled in 1999. The kitchen was moved west of the Mayflower Room where the choir room was in 1958. The pastor’s offices are where the kitchen was; the business offices are where the pastor’s offices were in 1958; and Heritage Room is where Mayflower Lounge was. The Mayflower Room has straight walls to the south and carpeting to soundproof the room. The second floor is at it was but used for more activities. The university student center to the east is a small meeting room (201), the boy scout room is a multi-purpose room (204). The rooms north of the hall to the west are an office and the bell choir room. The “roughed-in” classrooms were refinished. Rooms south of the hall are still used for middle and high school Sunday school. They are also used as sleeping quarters for Family Promise guests, the Plymouth Language Program, Plymouth Academy, and Our Whole Lives: Lifespan Sexuality Education. The North Church, in its ability to accommodate many more programs and services, has been helpful in many ways for Plymouth.


Fires! By Kay Bradt The largest and most damaging fire to affect Plymouth happened in 1955. The South Church was nearly lost, and water and smoke damaged the sanctuary, but there were other close calls and tragic fires. Each time, the beautiful and now historic building survived. Some heroes emerge from these stories and the affection Plymouth members have for the building and all it stands for are evident. 1886. The first fire on record occurred Sunday January 24, 1886 and was pretty minor. A Sunday school class discovered flames “shooting up from the register” in the parlor where classes were held. It was put out quickly and there is no mention of it in the minutes, just a brief note in the newspaper. (Lawrence Gazette, 1/28/1886) 1896. Potentially more damaging was a gas fire in September 1896. According to the newspaper, there was a leak in a gas pipe near the organ, which somehow caught fire. Flames as thick as a person’s wrist shot “halfway across the church… illuminating it brightly.” (Lawrence Daily Journal, September 23, 1896) Fortunately, an anonymous saint saw it and went to the home of RD Mason who was one of the trustees and had a key to the church. He called the plumbers who shut the gas off and all was well. Fire was on the minds of Plymouth members in 1910 when, according to the minutes, “Mr Faxon called attention to the necessity of additional facilities for getting out of the church parlors and gallery in case of fire. Prof Olney called attention to the church doors opening inward, which was contrary to a state law.” 1916. Another fire started in the small kitchen wing on the north side of the church, when a burner was left on overnight on November 14, 1916 either to keep the pipes from freezing (Lawrence Daily Gazette, November 15, 1916) or to thaw a frozen pipe (Lawrence Daily Journal World, November 15, 1916). According to church minutes, when the gas “came up” in the early morning, it overheated and caught the flooring on fire. It seems that people throughout the city turned their furnaces off or down at night so the pressure in the gas pipes increased and the fire in the stove burned more strongly. The hero of the night was a student, Walter Williams, from Eureka, Kansas, who noticed flames shooting through the roof as he passed the church on his way home from work at Dan’s Café just past midnight. He alerted the fire department and “probably saved the Plymouth Congregational Church from complete ruin…” In appreciation, the church raised a $50 reward. (Lawrence Daily Gazette, November 16, 1916) Figure 25. Lawrence, Kansas Fire Department Records. University of Kansas. Spencer Research Library.

Fire had gotten into the floor joists beneath the sanctuary and smoke damage extended under the sanctuary and into the Parish House. Damage was extensive,

estimated to be about $600 ($13,000 in today’s terms). The minister at the neighboring Christian Church took advantage of the fire. He ran an advertisement in the paper which read FIRE SUNDAY NIGHT – WATCH THIS SPACE TOMORROW.” His Sunday evening sermon was simply entitled “Fire.” The real tragedy of this fire came after the blaze was extinguished. CL Edwards, a member of the church since 1855 and who had served as its treasurer for over fifty years, was inspecting the fire damage

21 when he slipped and fell on the steps. Blood poisoning developed from his injuries and he died at home on November 23. 1936. Plymouth has long been one of the tallest buildings downtown and it is not surprising that lightning has been a problem, striking the roof, the towers and spires. On May 17, 1936 at about 3:00 in an afternoon storm, lightning struck the south tower of the church. The flames were doused quickly, but the fire continued to smolder under the shingles and was difficult to put out. The interior of the tower was only 10 feet square and 45 feet high which gave the firefighters very little room to maneuver. It is a little difficult to understand the newspaper account, but it may be that some of the firemen held a ladder, while others climbed up. One man, with a rope around his waist for safety, got near the top and chopped a hole in the side of the tower, climbed to the top, removed the shingles and hosed the fire down. Water from the hose was caught at the bottom of the tower in sheets of canvas, to avoid damage to the building. What care the firefighters took! The entire day shift was needed to douse the fire, and they were assisted by several firemen from the night shift. However, according to church minutes, the damage only amounted to $379. In addition, the minutes show $88 paid for workman’s compensation. It is possible that was for George Melvin Robson who fell through the roof of a church fire and died that November from injuries he sustained from the fire. Because there had been several previous lightning strikes, the Prudential Board proposed, and the congregation approved, razing both towers instead of repairing them. 1955. At 3:25 am September 23, 1955 the fire department received a call that the Parish House (the south church) was on fire. This was the third major church fire of the year in Lawrence. It was attributed to faulty wiring in the kitchen, which was at the back of the building, next to the alley. It took all 25 firefighters, using all nine of the department’s hoses, two and a half hours to put out the main blaze and several more to find and extinguish hotspots in the Parish House and in the ceiling over the sanctuary. The church was actually quite fortunate that a breeze from the west kept the fire from affecting the sanctuary too much.

Figure 26. Fire in the Parish House. Plymouth History Room.

“All three floors of the Parish House were gutted, leaving the gaunt brick walls standing and the interior a shambles. The sanctuary damaged from smoke and water was miraculously saved from complete destruction.” (Dale Turner in the Kansas Congregationalist, Fall 1955)

Recovery was a community affair. Members of the church pitched in, bringing “buckets, rags, scrub brushes and cleanser” to remove the smoke damage in the sanctuary. Students from three fraternities helped clean and paint. The Presbyterian Church opened its doors to Plymouth on the evening of September 29th for a congregational meeting to plan for the church’s recovery. The congregation authorized a campaign to raise Figure 27. Interior. Plymouth History $150,000, form a building committee and to purchase the two lots north Room. of the sanctuary. While the church was out of commission, church services and Sunday school classes were held in the Haskell auditorium and surrounding classrooms. The invitation was tendered by Solon Ayers, Superintendent of Haskell Institute and a member of the congregation. When the sanctuary was once

22 again usable for worship, the Sunday school was relocated to a house on one of the properties to the north of the church until the Parish House was rebuilt. The women of Trinity Episcopal Church donated the proceeds of one of their teas to help rebuilding, much as the Plymouth Women had raised money for Trinity after their May 18th fire. The First Methodist Episcopal Church, across the street, put on an enormous pancake feed in December and raised over $2,000, $1,000 apiece for Plymouth and Trinity churches. Noble Strong Elderkin, who was the pastor at the time the Parish House was built, visited and spoke at the dinner celebrating Plymouth’s 101st anniversary and kicking off the fund-raising effort. Plymouth Women started the Thrift Shop right after the fire to support Plymouth and gave over $11,000 of the proceeds that year to the church. The Thrift Shop operated until 2000. Plymouth was fortunate, too, in having adequate insurance. After the fire at Trinity, Carl Althaus, church treasurer, increased Plymouth’s insurance coverage by $30,000 to nearly $186,000 after the Trinity Episcopal Church caught fire. Damage was pegged at $150,000, but the congregation had been considering a number of improvements to the building at the time of the fire. Plymouth needed more space; the church and Lawrence had grown quickly during the postwar period. The town’s population increased from 18,000 to 23,000 between 1950 and 1955; the physical area had increased from 5,313 acres to 6,456; and five new schools had been built. 2000. The one fire that potentially endangered people was discovered at 8:45 am by a child in the Community Children’s Center Head Start. Twenty-five children were evacuated and Gary Marroquin, who was bringing his son to Head Start, called the fire station. He then grabbed a garden hose and “started spraying the exterior around the torched area until the firefighters arrived.” The fire was started by a torch to thaw a frozen water pipe. The firefighters found the fire quickly with a “helmet-mounted device that detects heat.” Damage was a mere $500. (Lawrence Daily Journal-World, 1/28/2000)


The Plymouth Frescoes by Susan McCarthy The women of Plymouth in the late 19th century worked hard to raise money to fund “extras,” adding beauty and elegance to our church. The story about the stained-glass windows has been told many times. But the frescoes painted on the walls and ceiling of the sanctuary, another project funded by the women, is not as well-known since there is not a lot of information about this project. But we do know that the program for the frescoes, painted before the church opened in 1870, consisted of seven scenes on the life of Christ painted on the walls and the ceiling. There were two scenes on the west wall on either side of the organ. One diagram in our records lists several of the scenes. There was a scene of the “Last Supper,” a scene of “Abraham ready to offer up Isaac,” and one of “Christ Walking on water helping Peter back into the boat.” So what happened to the frescoes? First a little background information in case you are not familiar with the fresco medium. Fresco goes back to before the age of the Greeks and Romans, to the Minoans in the 17th century B.C. Frescoes can last a long time, if they are done correctly. The pigment, mixed with limewater is applied on a wet lime plaster surface, called intonaco. The wet plaster absorbs the paint and the painting becomes part of the wall. That is why it is so stable. However, if the pigment is applied to dry plaster, fresco secco, it will not last as long. I would guess what happened at Plymouth is that the frescoes were not painted in the correct way. In one newspaper account, it stated that “when an angel’s wing fell crumbling to the floor or when the woman of Samaria dropped her pitcher where recovery was impossible” it seemed clear to me that the frescoes were not painted buon fresco—as good frescoes. Probably paint first began to flake off and within twelve years large chunks were falling from the ceiling. According to the newspaper account from December 6th of 1888, the journalist commented that the frescoes looked “cheap and provincial.” He also criticized the artists for their faults in foreshortening and “blunders in shading.” Perhaps the Plymouth women had gotten their inspiration from great European frescoes but evidently the artists they hired were not quite up to those standards. Once the frescoes began to fall apart, the decision was made to paint over this first attempt at ceiling decorations. They had lasted about a dozen years. Then in 1888 a painting firm from Kansas City, Kuhn and Kell, was hired to “fresco” the ceilings and portions of the walls. This time narrative scenes were not chosen. Instead, a style then in fashion called East Lake, popular in the Victorian period, provided the inspiration. (See figure 28) It employed lots of color; over 600 colors were used at Plymouth in design elements. This medium was also referred to as “kalsomining” a technique of whitewashing . We have no evidence of how long this final treatment lasted. Yet it is good for us to remember how dedicated were these 19th century Plymouth women. After all, their vision mostly endures to this day. Figure 28: Photo of Plymouth sanctuary around 1888, showing the East Lake Style

24 The Organs By Kay Bradt Music was important to Plymouth from the very beginning. Samuel Kimball, who came to Lawrence in October 1854, was the first music director at Plymouth. The choir practiced at his house where there was a melodeon to accompany them. Every Sunday they carried the instrument to church. In 1867 Plymouth held church meetings in the music room of Foster & Cook, a music store. They were selling cabinet organs made by Peloubet, Pelton, & Co. and Plymouth bought one for $650. It had two Figure 29: https://www.oldbookillustrations. manuals and a pedalboard. com (Creative Commons)

Figure 30:. https://www.oldbookillustrations.com (Creative Commons)

When the 1870 church was under construction, William A Johnson, from Westfield, MA, proposed a pipe organ with two manuals, pedals, and twenty-six stops for $3,000. Edward Kimball, brother of Samuel Kimball, was enthusiastic but Richard Cordley, who loved music, thought it was “preposterous” to even think of spending that much money on it. Edward Kimball persisted, and got the trustees to let him raise the money. JG Haskell designed the case that held the pipes. The Lawrence Daily Journal took much interest in the organ. The reporter got a peek at the organ while it was being assembled. “Though Mr Treat was right in the bowels of the organ, ‘setting it up’ for service and the fine concert that is to come off, ere long, at the church, he treated us to a note from the organ. It sounded like the distant thunder, or the rushing of mighty waters.

Figure 31:. Choir Loft, 1897. Plymouth History Room.

The reporter also wondered if “some competent player” would be hired. Although we cannot judge his playing, J Edgar Bartlett studied at major schools, Oberlin College and at the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany. Newspapers complimented him, and he was also hired by the public schools and the University to teach.

Figure 32. Riggs Sisters. Plymouth History Room.

Bartlett was followed by Frank O Marvin, who served as organist for twenty-six years and after whom the 1922 organ was named. He was multitalented: he was the Dean of the School of Engineering, played the organ at Plymouth, and composed carols. The Misses Riggs (Kate, Lucy, and May), who often sang as a trio, performed some of the Marvin carols in Advent 1922.


Figure 33.. The Marvin organ under construction, 1922. Douglas County Historical Society, Watkins Museum of History

There was a movement starting as early as 1919 for a new organ. Maude Cooke Anderson contributed all the money she had earned from playing the organ at funerals. The Music Committee formally proposed a new organ in February 19, 1922 for $4,000. It ended up costing $13,000. The Calendar, a women’s organization which raised money for the maintenance and furnishing of the church, were responsible for the organ drive. Before the drive, Maude Cooke Anderson contributed all the money she had earned from playing the organ at funerals and Abbie Raymond Noyes and the WB Daltons were big donors, also. By June 1922, the Calendar had raised $5,162.

Plymouth contracted with Reuters for a “Reuter ElectroPneumatic Pipe Organ the console to be of the very latest pattern, interior of same to be finished in Mahogany.” The bellows were replaced with an electric blower, eliminating the organ-boy who pumped the bellows. The dedication was November 12, 1922 with Carl Preyer playing the organ, a quartet singing, and WB Dalton playing the cello. In 1945, AB Weaver funded a set of 45 chimes. Carl Althaus started the discussion of a five-year comprehensive plan for the church, one tiny part of which was organ repair. “Either a new console or a major repair job are necessary soon… Enlargement of choir loft has been considered, and in this connection is the question of rearranging the front of the sanctuary.” The organ would cost at most $30,000. The congregation voted for a committee to bring a report in the fall. The report wasn’t finished until May 1955 and was approved in June including the new console and urgent repairs for the organ. But in September, the five-year plan was interrupted by the 1955 fire and the organ money was used for building six extra rooms on the second floor of the North Church. By October 1960, the organ console was installed. Still, the life of an organ was about 45 years, so the organ would need to be replaced or refurbished in about seven years. The time was not right. After the fire, the rebuilding of the South Church, the addition of the North Church, and the enlargement of the balcony cost the congregation a lot of money. In December 1968, the question of replacing or renovating the organ was taken up, again. Additionally, the organ committee explored doubling the choir loft area by taking it back to the west wall and moving the organ pipes further to the north and south. The organ committee recommended a new organ with an improved clarity and brilliance but that the tonality of the old organ would be kept, “we have avoided making and changes that would deprive the layman of his enjoyment of the tone of the organ.” The congregation approved of the cost of $80,716 and the recommendation of the organ committee, although not unanimously. James Moeser wrote, “The decision to build the organ and to enlarge the choir loft was… bitterly

Figure 34.. The front of the church, 1970. Plymouth History Room. Plymouth History Room.

26 disputed by some who felt that by spending this money on itself the church was denying its mission in and to the world.” Carl Althaus “personally refinished all of the walnut casework of the organ, the stairs to the choir loft, and the woodwork of the lower chancel.” Two additions have been made. In 1976, a Zymbelstern, the tinkling bells played primarily at Christmas, was given in memory of Jess Mercer and Trompette en Chamade, the horizontal copper pipes that are to either side of the cross, was given by Robert and Barbara Nash. The organ is fifty years old as of this writing. In 2003, Helen Hawley proposed a new console; the organ console has not been installed, but the Music and Fine Arts Board is working on it. Organ makers have made considerable technical improvements in consoles. Sources: Lawrence Daily Journal World University Daily Kansan Tedder, Jane. “150 Years of Music.” In the Love of Truth and in the Spirit of Jesus. Lawrence, KS: Plymouth Congregational Church, 2004.


A New Look at Plymouth’s Stained-Glass Window By Susan McCarthy In the 1950s a Sunday School teacher from Kansas City, Mrs. Walter Keeler, visited Plymouth and wrote a paper entitled “The Story of the Windows at Plymouth Congregational Church at Lawrence, Kansas.” Most articles about the windows published since then are very derivative of Keeler’s article. Many of her insights and interpretations are still valid. However, I’d like to look anew at these windows and provide a little different perspective based on research and on my background in art history. Our church was designed by John Haskell, the most well-known architect of 19th century Kansas, and was finished in 1870. The budget was tight and accordingly plans called for the windows in the sanctuary to be made of clear glass. Yet Plymouth women were not satisfied with that decision; they wanted something finer and more decorative. A committee consisting of Mrs. Lucerne Allen Barker, Mrs. Hugh Means, and Mrs. Anna Barker Spencer headed a group of women who raised funds in a variety of ways. For instance, instead of hiring outside workers to wash dishes after church suppers, the women washed the dishes themselves. They sold cakes, pies and hot coffee to farmers who came into town on Saturdays by setting up several stands on Massachusetts Street—one at the corner of 9th where Weavers is and one at the corner of 10th where the old Masonic Lodge still stands. Now think of that—to have fresh hot coffee at those places took a system of relays back and forth from the church. There were no thermos pots, no big electric coffee makers. After the women had made enough money for a down payment, they ordered the windows and then continued with their fundraising efforts. Unfortunately, we have no documentation about the original purchase or any notes about the process at all. This in itself is not surprising—after all the process happened 150 years ago. But one issue I found myself wondering about was why the women chose a British stained-glass firm to make our windows and how in the world did they find them? Perhaps someone in our church had a contact in another church who recommended the company. But it certainly would have been a lot easier to obtain the windows from an American source. Although glassmaking was one of America’s first industries, the art of stained glass was just getting its footing in the middle of the nineteenth century. The first major stained-glass installation in America was at Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, New York in 1843. John LaFarge, a major American painter, created stained glass windows for Trinity Church in Boston between 1883 and 1902 and worked with the American who is most closely identified with the stained-glass medium, Louis Comfort Tiffany. So as you can see, the American stained glass was gearing up at the same time as our women were looking for a safe and dependable company in which to invest their hard earned funds. The timing just did not work out—the women took their business overseas where the art of religious stained glass had a history extending back to the 6th century. We can’t go through all that history in this brief article so let’s jump to the middle of the nineteenth century. There were twenty-five English firms who showed their wares at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London in 1851 and at least ten more started stained-glass production in the 1850s. That gave our Plymouth women a large number of companies to choose from. Stained glass achieved its prominence during the Gothic Period as Christianity relied on artistic imagery, also including illuminated books, wall paintings and sculpture, to convey the stories from the scriptures. Stained glass decorations modified the light in churches and were crucial to enhancing the drama of the sacraments in sacred spaces. In the 19th century there was a general revival of interest in stained glass and methods of making it evolved away from simply painting onto clear glass with enamel

28 paints. New developments in the craft involved using pot-metal glass (glass colored while in a clay pot in the furnace) and using lead to highlight the design, hold the glass in place and separate sections. So why is it called “stained glass” anyway? For many years, on the side of the window that faced the exterior, there was a silver stain applied to the glass that when fired turned a shade of yellow. The silver stain allowed artists to make various shades of yellow without using a separate piece of lead and also produced the color yellow. Previously yellow had not been readily available so this was important. Finally let’s turn back to Plymouth. The windows in our sanctuary are lancet style windows—that is, long, narrow windows usually with an arch at the top, except ours are rounded. If we divide each window in half where the window is raised or lowered, on the lower half there are twelve rows of octagon shaped panes with four octagons across. This design is a Greek-styled Cross, meaning the arms are of equal length. The glass is frosted and semi-opaque. The design was stamped on in grisaille, figure 36, a light charcoal gray to a light amber brown, and then fired. Grisaille was a common method in stained glass technique used to cover an area with decoration without using a lot of color. The series of four panes are held in place by lead molding punctuated by a small red and blue square glass design (or orange and green in some windows) turned on point. To form a border on each side of the four-pane row is a Figure 35. Full beautiful stained glass pane of green ivy vines. Ivy of stained-glass course is a plant which stays green even in harsh weather window--lancet conditions, symbolizing eternal life and fidelity. The border changes from window to window—sometimes the border is in red, blue or brown and the vine could be oak leaves and acorns instead of ivy. These border panes are half the width of one of the Greek Cross panes. In the top half of each window, the same format is followed for the Figure 36. Example of grisaille patterns first nine rows. But the remaining one-eighth of the entire length of each window is where we find the crowning glory. The circular shape bearing a unique symbol for each window is called a roundel, a round shape within a larger design. You could also call this shape a medallion. The roundel is surrounded by more ivy vines and a floral pattern which varies from window to window. Some of the flowers are recognizable such as in the background for the “Burning Lamp” where we find lilies, the symbol of purity associated with the Virgin Mary. The program for the symbols in the roundels has a definite progression in order to understand the unfolding story. The windows on the south side of the sanctuary represent stories from the New Testament while those on the north side are from the Old Testament. Starting on the Southeast corner, window #1, figure 37, the symbol in the roundel is the “Alpha and the Omega.” These symbols, as the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, are often associated with Christianity, with God and his Son. Revelation 1:8 reads, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending…” By extension then, the Alpha and Omega symbolize eternity. Moving directly across the Sanctuary to the Northeast, window #2, the symbol in the medallion is the tablet representing the Ten Commandments. This symbol is obvious. These tablets brought down from Mt. Sinai represent the Figure 37. biblical laws man needed to live an ethical, Christian life on earth. "Window #1: Alpha and Omega

29 Back to the South side for window #3. The five-pointed star is a sign of divine guidance as it lights up the darkness. This probably represents the Star of Bethlehem. Keeler noted that the star on a brown field means that the Messiah had come down to earth. Second on the north side, window #4, figure 38. The medallion in this window was replaced because the original was destroyed during a storm. This one is puzzling. Keeler interpreted it as a growing plant but that plant is not easily identified. However it could be a laurel branch or a myrrh tree which has leaves that are small, yellowish or white and tear shaped. The myrrh tree is small, with a stunted trunk, covered with light-gray bark. This would fit with the developing story program as myrrh was used in Christ’s Figure 38. Window burial. #4--growing plant

The roundel in the center on the South, window #5, figure 39, displays crossed trumpets signifying a call to assemble. The trumpets are important symbols in both the Old and New Testaments. The two trumpets crossed could connect to the Resurrection or the trumpeting of God for the Second Exodus. The “Golden Harp” opposite on the North side, window #6, symbolizes all the songs and music played in honor of God. The harp often is associated with the divine. Figure 39. Window #5--Crossed Trumpets

Figure 40. Window #7-Lighted Lamp

The “Lighted Lamp, ” figure 40, is shown on the medallion on the south side, window #7. In general, light is a symbol of divine presence, the “Light of Christ.” The lamp which brings light is also associated with knowledge and wisdom. If you think of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25, the wise ones took oil for their lamps and were prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom. The foolish ones did not. The word of God is also a lamp “unto my feet.” In this way the lamp symbolizes clarity and piety. There is light on the north side too, in window #8, “the burning altar.” The altar, as God’s table, is the center of focus in the sanctuary. Fire is charity which should always be burning in our hearts. It is burning on the altar where we bring our offerings and distribute them. The symbolism of a burning altar therefore is a clean heart.

On the south side, window #9, are “Crossed Staves” which Keeler identifies as shepherd’s crooks. I wonder about this, because they would be awfully fancy crooks for a shepherd. Instead the staves could just be swords. Since they are pointing downward that means the fight is over. This would be a reminder of Christ’s message that only love defeats evil. The lamb seen in window #10, north side, is usually a symbol of Christ, “Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the World.” Frequently as is the case with our logo, the lamb is shown on a hill which represents the Church of God—in this case he holds a flag with the Christian symbol emblazoned on it. In Christianity, the lamb represents Christ who suffered for humanity and also symbolizes gentleness, innocence, and purity. If we review the progression of the story as laid out in the Sanctuary windows: in the beginning was God who gave man laws. The star forecasts the coming of His Son while the myrrh is associated with Christ’s death and burial. The trumpets announce Judgment Day and the lighted lamp suggests that Christ will come again to earth. The burning altar reminds people to be charitable of heart and that the

30 gospel of Christ is about spreading love. Finally, with Christ depicted as the lamb, He will deliver man’s immortality. Given the limited budget for the windows in addition to the distance between Lawrence, Kansas and the chosen stained-glass company in England, I would guess that the women chose the designs they wanted from a pattern book. Companies used pattern books to facilitate the design process because many of the same logos were desirable in different churches. The Plymouth women probably sent measurements of the windows, followed by letters going back and forth concerning the chosen logos, colors, and other concerns. If the designs were indeed chosen from a pattern book, that does not mean that our windows are not unique. They certainly are. They were tailored to fit our sanctuary perfectly and the message was purposefully chosen. Yet for all the work of paying for the windows and the anxiety of waiting for them to be shipped safely from England to New York and then hauled overland by boat and then by wagon train to Lawrence, the windows did not arrive until after the church was completed. For at least a few months, window openings were covered over by plywood until the windows arrived and were installed. Given that complex history, you would have thought there would never have been any notion to disturb these prized stained-glass windows ever again. But around 1917, some congregants grew tired of them and wanted plain glass windows to allow more light to filter into the sanctuary. They thought about selling them seriously enough that a representative from Tiffany’s came to Kansas to look at the windows and estimate their value. He told the congregation to name their price and Tiffany would pay it. With that offer on the table, the members realized their windows were priceless. They did not sell them. That was the end of any plans to switch out the stained-glass windows for something plainer! While the windows have not been moved since installation in 1870, a few things have happened to them recently. In the 1980s, storm windows were installed to protect the stained glass. In the 1990s church member Bill Pugh who had a business called, Top Rung Tower Chime Organ Service spent two years cleaning and repairing the ten windows. He removed the sashes, scraped off accumulated paint on the exterior, gently cleaned the windows, replaced the sash ropes. After he completed his work the windows were easier to operate and more stable. Now they are safe for another 150 years!

Figure 41: Bill Pugh in 1990 working on the windows.

Sources: Keeler, Mrs. Walter J., (Myra Summers) “The Story of the Windows at Plymouth Congregational Church,” submitted for filing in the church records, in September 1953. Elfriede Fischer Rowe, “Special Windows at Church Boast an Amusing History,” Lawrence Journal World, printed Wednesday, August 30, 1967.

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