Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Artist Spotlight: Harry James Horwood

By Matthew Shoen 
Associate Architectural Historian 

Occasionally we've taken time to blog about the architects we've encountered in our research. Today I want to change things up a little and discuss briefly discuss a stained glass artist whose works form a critical component of our next nomination. Today's blog is about Harry James Horwood a resident of Ogdensburg, New York, who along with his father Harry Horwood, was one of the most accomplished stained glass artists in the United States during the early twentieth century. (For clarity Harry James Horwood will always be addressed by his full name)

From the First Baptist Church of Ogdensburg
Photos taken by David Martin of the Horwood Stained Glass Museum

Harry James Horwood was born in England in 1864 though he soon moved to Prescott, Ontario Canada where his father had set up a stained glass studio. During the 1870s and 1880s Ottawa was experiencing a massive construction boom. Large churches and government buildings were built during this period and Harry Horwood took advantage of the construction boom and earned multiple contracts installing windows in buildings like Ottawa's Parliament Building, Ottawa's Carnegie Library, and Notre Dame Cathedral.

In 1880 Harry Horwood opened a branch studio in Ogdensburg, New York. Ogdensburg is just across the St. Lawrence River from Prescott and Harry Horwood's artistry had attracted the city's attention. In 1880, city leaders commissioned Horwood to install stained glass windows in the Ogdensburg Opera House. The massive circular rose colored window Horwood created was widely considered the opera house's most beautiful element, though it was sadly lost in 1926 due to a fire. 
The Ogdensburg Opera House after the fire.
The space occupied by Harry Horwood's rose window is clearly visible.
From Julie Madlin's Ogdensburg History Blog.

The Ogdensburg Opera House's rose colored window made the Horwood name universally known in Upstate New York and numerous orders for stained glass windows came to Harry Horwood's Ogdensburg studio from area churches. Horwood remained active in Upstate New York until 1917 when he died. After Harry Horwood died, Harry James Horwood took over the Ogdensburg studio and continued providing beautiful stained glass windows to the residents of Upstate New York. 

While his father was better known, Harry James Horwood was arguably more important to Upstate New York. After taking over his father's business Harry James Horwood moved the business to a different part of the Ogdensburg. After completing the move, Harry James Horwood began taking orders from churches and private individuals from around the region. His work displayed a high level of artistry, but crucially his windows were inexpensive. Harry James Horwood retailed some of his windows for as little as thirty-five dollars and churches eagerly bought them. 

One church that patronized Horwood repeatedly was the First Baptist Church in Ogdensburg. This church contains eleven Horwood stained glass windows, eight of which are visible and in beautiful condition. The windows were installed between 1931 and 1944 and memorialize various church members and former pastors. The windows display scenes from the bible such as the Last Supper, the Resurrection, and the Coming of the Three Wise Men. Additionally, the church had a special relationship with Harry James Horwood, as he was the church's choirmaster.

These stained glass windows and the many hundreds made by Harry James Horwood and his father Harry Horwood beautify churches across New York and Canada. The beauty of these windows make visits to any of the churches in Upstate New York a treat and an excellent reason to stop by and go inside. So if you're every traveling to Ottawa, take 81 north and stop by some of the churches in Ogdensburg or the other local communities and ask to see the stained glass artistry of Harry James Horwood. 

Christ the Good Shepard from the First Baptist Church of Ogdensburg
Photo by David Martin
The Last Supper from the First Baptist Church
Photo by David Martin

The transom above the First Baptist Church's front door is Harry James Horwood's simplest piece of art in the church.
Photo by David Martin

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