Mary Lyon Church’s stained glass windows to undergo restoration

  • The stained glass window memorializing Buckland native Mary Lyon, who founded Mount Holyoke College, will be one of six windows at the First Congregational Church of Buckland undergoing restoration. Contributed photo

  • A stained glass window in honor of Samuel Taylor, a settler of Buckland, at the First Congregational Church of Buckland. Contributed photo

  • A star tops one of six stained glass windows at the First Congregational Church of Buckland, all of which will undergo restoration. Contributed photo

Staff Writer
Published: 11/1/2019 6:27:24 PM

BUCKLAND — Although the exact origins of the six stained glass windows of the First Congregational Church of Buckland — also known as Mary Lyon Church — are unknown, a fundraiser to support their future has begun.

The church has launched a capital campaign to fund the restoration of the windows, each of which portray a local historical figure.

The windows were originally installed in 1909, and after 110 years of New England weather, the windows are “bowing, buckling and they need some work,” said Cyndie Stetson, a seven-year member of the church and chair of the capital campaign.

“We are asking church members, friends, family — whoever — if they would like to help us out and donate,” Stetson said, adding that the total cost will be $90,000, paid in installments. The first installment of $14,000 has been paid and the windows will be picked up on Monday to begin restoration.

An additional $3,000 has been raised to put toward the next installment, but with much more needed, the church will have fundraising events throughout 2020, Steston said.

The windows will be taken to Stained Glass Resources Inc. in Hampden, according to Carl Nelke, a church member since the ’90s and chair of its finance and building committee.

“Actually, the fact that (Stained Glass Resources Inc.) is in Hampden is a huge deciding factor,” Nelke said. “This way people are a little more comfortable. They can drive down to Hampden ... anytime and see how their windows are progressing.”

There, the windows will be completely taken apart, cleaned and broken glass will be replaced, Nelke said. The windows will be ready around May 2020. Throughout the winter, plywood with small plexiglass windows will stand in for the stained-glass windows.

How the windows originally came to be is a bit of a mystery, said church historian Tina Peters. Beyond the proposal of the windows and their installation — mentioned twice in the church ledgers and once in the Greenfield Gazette & Courier — much remains unknown.

Peters does know that each window was paid for by family and community members of the seven people depicted. But the rest, she can only surmise.

The amount of Buckland history in the windows blows Peters away.

“To me, this is the history of the community as much as it is a piece of glass,” she said.

The windows depict Mary Lyon, a Buckland native and founder of Mount Holyoke College, and in a separate window, her mentor, Deacon John Porter. Buckland settler and church member Samuel Taylor is memorialized in a third window. Another window honors nationally known composer and Buckland native William Sherwin. The fifth and sixth windows memorialize church members — Silas Trowbridge, a church deacon, has his own window and the Revs. Charles Guild and Alpheus Hodges share a window. Peters said Hodges was instrumental in creating the Buckland Public Library.

For Peters, the windows are a visual link between the past and present.

“I feel like there are folks that sit in the pews today who are descendants of (those depicted on the windows)” she said. “There are folks walking around Buckland, Shelburne Falls, the West County area and Western Mass. (who) are blood-related to the individuals (who) are memorialized. I just find that fascinating.”

Reach Maureen O’Reilly at or at 413-772-0261, ext. 280.

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