AAFCS Historic Stained Glass Windows

Article excerpt


The AAFCS stained glass windows that filled our current boardroom with immense color were artistically hung in front of existing windows for all to see. The historic stained glass windows began their history with AAFCS on November 9, 1950, when the American Home Economics Association (AHEA) purchased our first national headquarters building, "the House on Twentieth Street and Q," located at 1600 Twentieth Street, Washington, DC.1

Originally, the stained glass windows were made in England and, we believe, installed in the Popingworth House in Lewes, England, possibly in the early 1800's. Later they were installed in the John Jacob Astor III family home on 4 West 34th Street in New York City. Colonel and Mrs. Theodorus Bailey Myers had rented the Astor's home for nine years while living in New York City and some of the stained glass windows appear in a photograph of Colonel Bailey Myers' library. The Bailey Myers family moved to the Washington, DC area to spend their winters and socialize with the distinguished Washington society. Around 1885 Colonel and Mrs. Bailey Myers purchased the land at Twentieth and Q Streets as sites for houses for their son and daughter. When the Astor home was to be demolished to build the Waldorf-Astoria hotel (built in 1893), the Bailey Myers family acquired the Victorian windows. Some of these windows were subsequently installed in the home that Colonel and Mrs. Bailey Myers were building for their daughter, Mrs. Cassie Julian-James on Twenrieth Street at Q in Washington, DC in 1887. Mrs. Julian-James' father and husband had both died before Mrs. Julian-James and her mother moved into the new house.2 "The House at Twentieth and Q" was said to be a center of hospitality and social gatherings hosted by Mrs. Cassie Julian-James and her mother, Mrs. Myers through World War 1. The house was later converted into office space in the 1940's, and then sold to the AREA to be used as our first national headquarters in 1950.1

In the first half of the nineteenth century New York was growing into an industrial and cultural city equaling the largest European cities. Many American citizens traveled abroad seeking the aesthetic treasures that money could buy to display their individual wealth. Imported objects like the AAFCS Victorian stained glass windows added sentimental art themes to the home life in the wake of the compartmentalized effect of the industrial era. The colorful sunlit rays created a barrier that separated individuals from the crowded urban environment outside their homes. In her book, Mrs. JulianJames describes her family as high-minded individuals who followed pursuits of the intellect. With their ample fortune the family was able to travel the world several times and purchase items for their homes.2

Notes, from an unknown author, describing the new AHEA Headquarters state that the stained glass windows were located in the front door, reception room, and morning room and on the four stair landings of our new headquarters building. In the January 24-June 15, 1951 Report of the Furnishings and Decorating Committee listed several areas that needed attention before the staff could move into the headquarters building. Among the list was a statement to ". . remove leaded glass from three front windows and install clear double strength glass ...... Later modifications included eliminating the stained glass windows in the reception room and replacing them with plain glass for better lighting. These individual leaded glass window pieces are also in our collection. It was written in a fundraising pamphlet that

... to descend the winding staircase graced with stained glass becomes a memorable experience. At each of the many landings, the grandeur of the late 1880's fingers in the atmosphere like a long-remembered fragrance, and a sense of stability and continuity of a happy, outgoing family life prevails.3

As AREA grew in membership and services, in 1971 the association moved into their new building located at 2010 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC. …