Stained glass window in Niles’ Trinity church honored

Published 3:53 pm Tuesday, September 16, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The Rev. Franklin "Rocky" P. Schuster III, of Trinity Episcopal Church in Niles was in for a pleasant surprise at work Monday morning.
Little did he know that one of the windows inside the church, which is located at 9 S. Fourth St., in Niles, is featured as September's Window of the Month for the Michigan Stained Glass Census.
The Glass Census is a program of the Michigan State University Museum in Lansing that documents stained glass windows in churches, old buildings, historic homes, public buildings and businesses throughout the state.
Entitled "Behold the Master Cometh," the window at Trinity illustrates a biblical story found in the Book of John.
The Glass Census states that Catherine Jacks Weisburg gave the window to the church in the early 1920s as a memorial to her mother, Carolyn Mallet Jacks.
The Jacks family is known in Niles for having founded the Niles Paper Company.
Although there is no record of purchase, a letter written by Weisburg in 1958 attributes the window to Tiffany Studio in New York.
That studio went out of business in the early part of the 20th century, but many of their works still remain in buildings throughout the country and are renowned for their high quality.
Schuster, who worked at various churches before arriving in Niles, said all of the stained glass windows inside the church are special to him.
Even more so, perhaps, because two churches he worked in previously didn't have such windows.
Schuster, who grew up attending a church that had stained glass windows, thinks such windows make the church a peaceful place to be.
Schuster, however, said the stained glass windows sometimes make it dark inside the church.
The windows in the church date from 1858 through to the late 1900s and are the work of Charles J. Connick Studios of Boston, the Walter Pymn Studios of Benton Harbor and other studios that have yet to be identified by the Glass Census.
Michele Beltran is co-director for the Glass Census at the Michigan State University Museum.
She said the window at Trinity Episcopal Church was chosen partially for geographic reasons, but also because of the window's origin.
Often, with the large amount of old buildings in the southeast corner of Michigan, the southwestern region is overlooked, she said.
With that in mind, she is very pleased that the church's window was chosen.
In addition, she thinks the window is in pristine condition.
Beltran said only two churches in Niles are registered in the Glass Census database, which has existed since 1982, but has only been online since 1997.
The two churches are the Trinity Episcopal Church and the First Presbyterian Church.
Only 17 stained glass windows have been registered in Berrien County, and as far as the database that contains 1077 entries shows, Trinity Episcopal is the only church in the county with a Tiffany window. Beltran said most of the registered windows are in St. Joseph or in Benton Harbor.
She informs that area resident Francis Robinson registered "Behold the Master Cometh" with the Glass Census in 1997.
The Glass Census relies on volunteers for gathering information about these spectacular windows.