Pa. church shines under Tiffany stained glass

February 24, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Henrietta Dickey was born to wealthy parents in Baltimore on Dec. 13, 1872. She spent summers as a young girl in an elegant home in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., overlooking mountains across the valley to the west.

From her home on Old Route 16, Dickey could see Calvary Chapel, a small mission church. It was built on the facing hillside in Beartown in 1906.

The church's crowning jewel, in place above the altar, is a stained-glass window depicting the crosses of Calvary. The signature in the bottom right-hand corner reads, "Tiffany Studios New York."


It was made in 1910, according to a partial listing of Tiffany windows in a book by Alastair Duncan published in 1980 by Simon & Schuster.

Dickey, who died Aug. 29, 1953, commissioned the window in memory of her parents, Charles E. and Elizabeth Dickey.

Dickey, who never married, dedicated her life to the little church.

"We never knew her to have a job," said Myrna Sheasley, 63, whose husband, Richard, 66, is a member of Calvary Chapel's vestry.

In 1929, Dickey bought an old stone schoolhouse which the church uses as an education building and fellowship hall, Myrna Sheasley said.

Dickey taught Sunday school to generations of church children and sponsored more than 500 for baptism. When she died, she left each surviving godchild a small cash gift.

"I got $10," Myrna Sheasley said.

Dickey also left an endowment to the church. She is buried under a tombstone in front of the main entrance.

James Hauser, co-owner of Hauser Art Glass in Winona, Minn., said his company completed about $9,000 worth of repairs to the window in April 2003.

Richard Sheasley said the church chose Hauser's firm after area stained glass artisans refused to touch the window because of its historic significance.

Hauser said workers removed the window and took it to their shop in Minnesota. The repairs included basic maintenance, some recementing and releading, and replacing the outside covering which protects the window from weather and vandalism.

"It's a very nice little window. It accents the building," Hauser said.

Seen in the morning sunshine, light through the window radiates a warm glow across the interior of the church's dark wainscoting.

"It's a great feeling when you're sitting in church, especially on a cloudy Sunday morning," said William Yingling, one of the congregation's 70-plus members. "Then the sun comes up and light from the window pours in. It just sparkles."

No one in the congregation was sophisticated enough in the early 20th century to know about Tiffany, another testament to Dickey's wealth and background, Myrna Sheasley said.

Sheasley and Yingling remember Dickey when they were children. She had a car with a rumble seat, Sheasley said.

"If we were good in church we'd get to ride in the rumble seat," Yingling said.

"Beartown is not a wealthy place," Richard Sheasley said. "Even today, it would be unusual for a small church like this to own a Tiffany window."

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