Sunday, April 13, 2014

Romancing Lineville's G.A.R. memorial window

I'd expected to do a little reporting this morning on yesterday's quarterly meeting of the State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries at Prairie Trails museum in Corydon. But then I fell in love --- and when that happens you've got to jump right into it.

It was a  window that I fell in love with --- romancing stained glass again, very special stained glass. So I'm sorry, I'll come back to cemeteries later in the week.

Anyhow, I first saw this window at Prairie Trails not long after it had been reassembled and rededicated with considerable fanfare during October of 2012, some 115 years after its creation. I took a longer look on Saturday.

The altar rail is from the former Promise City United Methodist Church.

The window was commissioned during the late 1890s by members of Jas. H. Rogers Post No. 237, Grand Army of the Republic, for the brand new Methodist Episcopal Church in Lineville, built mostly during 1897 but dedicated during 1898.

Lineville is a once-prosperous town, now a shadow of its former self, that sits astraddle U.S. Highway 65 just before you plunge into Missouri. The area just south of the border is South Lineville, Missouri, although most probably wouldn't make the distinction these days.

At the time the church was built, there were two Methodist churches in the Linevilles --- just plain Methodist in Iowa, Southern Methodist in Missouri, a souvenir of Civil War days when Missouri was a divided state, claimed both by the Union and the Confederacy, although northern Missouri leaned strongly Union.

The Lineville window is not the only G.A.R. commemorative window in Iowa, although it is among the largest and most elaborate. The window that once helped light the old Osceola Methodist Church, demolished in the 1960s, now is located in the Clarke County Museum; other windows remain in active United Methodist Churches in Carlisle, Marion and Redfield.

By 2011, Lineville's United Methodists had diminished in numbers to the point where the congregation could not afford to repair its beautiful old building, with critical structural as well as cosmetic issues. So the decision was made to close church doors for the final time, then demolish the building.

As these hard decisions were being made, the Iowa Department, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, learned that the old commemorative window was threatened, stepped in and bought it.

On May 4, 2012, a party of "sons" gathered in Lineville, carefully disassembled the old window, removed its frame and delivered the pieces to Prairie Trails Museum in Corydon.

There, carpenter Steve Hysell carefully reassembled the window in the museum's northwest gallery, where it was mounted and backlighted so it could be appreciated for at least another 115 years.

Corydon marked the sesquicentennial of the Civil War during three October days that fall that included a re-enacted battle in Corydon Lake Park. The window was rededicated during a special ceremony at Prairie Trails on October 6.

Prairie Trails Museum opens for the season on Tuesday (April 15) with an evening open house, from 5 to 7 p.m., featuring free admission and refreshments. The museum will be open 1-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday during April and May, with longer hours beginning in June. Admission usually is charged --- unless you're a Wayne County Historical Society member ($10).

The exterior photo of Lineville Methodist Church was lifted from Ortha Green's "Churches of Wayne County, Iowa"; the photos of workers at the church during May of 2012, from the Web site of Co. A, 49th Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry --- The Governor's Own Iowa Rifles.

1 comment:

Carolyn H said...

Isn't that wonderful, that they kept that window for others to enjoy, that museum is the best one I have ever seen! In Corydon.