From Amsterdam and 104th to Christmas in the Park—A History of the Association Home’s Tiffany windows
November 18, 2009
Patricia Pongracz Spicka
MOBIA (Museum of Biblical Art), New York City, New York
In her illustrated lecture, Dr. Pongracz Spicka will trace the commission of the eleven leaded-glass windows that once graced the chapel of the Association for the Relief of Respectable, Aged, Indigent Females on Amsterdam Avenue and 104th Street in New York City.
This esteemed charity, which operated for 160 years until its closing in 1974, was directed and supported by a number of powerful women patrons. At the time of the home’s rebuilding in 1881, these philanthropic women chose a prominent architect, Richard Morris Hunt, and worked with him on the design and planning of the building.
In 1907, another influential supporter, Olivia Slocum Sage, donated $250,000 for the building of a larger chapel and new wing. The Tiffany windows installed in both the original chapel and those added in the lavish addition commemorate the women who made the home possible.
Hugh and Jeannette McKean acquired the windows, all with religious themes and iconography, at the Association Home’s request in 1974 when the building was threatened with demolition. They have been the focal point of Christmas in the Park since the event began in 1978. The 31st annual Christmas in the Park event will take place on Thursday December 3. The almost two-hour public event begins at 6:15 p.m. in Central Park.
Dr. Pongracz Spicka was chief curator at MOBIA from 2004 to 2006. In addition to her work at MOBIA, she is an adjunct professor at the College of Saint Elizabeth, Morristown, New Jersey. She was formerly curator and exhibition coordinator at The Gallery at the American Bible Society, New York, and holds master’s and doctoral degrees in the History of Art and Architecture from Brown University. Her numerous articles on religious art include “The Chapel’s First Installation and Move to Saint John the Divine” in the Museum’s 2002 publication, The Tiffany Chapel at the Morse Museum.