Governor Isaac Stevens Camp No. 1
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Hiram Gale Window Project
A joint project of Camp No. 1 and the
National Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic and
The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War
“Some posts invested their treasuries in cemeteries or sections; some in meeting halls; others in monuments, statues or cannon. It would seem that Navy City Post 110 left these windows as their memorial.”
Camp Commander Ken Richmond, shown left, standing next to the Olympia Cemetery GAR Marker
This project started when then Camp No. 1 Commander Ken Richmond was contacted by the leaders of the Indianola (located across the Puget Sound from Seattle) Community Church. The Church was looking for a home for a set of windows that had graced the Church for almost half a century, but that had recently been damaged by vandals. While the damage was significant to illustrate the fragile nature of these remarkable treasures, one has to think that the windows had their own guardian angle. For the vandals had pushed out the center medallions which fell about 3 feet to the carpeted floor – unbroken, undamaged. Lovingly made, lovingly watched after – apparently in more ways than one!
Once consisting of two windows, 2.5' w x8' h, these windows were separated into sections of two each = four total. Originally installed in 1902 in the original 1899 building of the First Methodist Church of Bremerton, the windows were incorporated into a new 1920 building of that congregation. In 1962 that church body moved to a new location and removed everything of value from their previous quarters. These windows included. The windows were sold to the Indianola Community Church, where they were "cut" to make four assemblies. They appear to be in their original frames. The pictures at the left shows how they were installed in the Indianola Church (left below the interior shot).
One of Washington's prominent CW vets, Hiram Gale, was commander of Naval Post 110 in 1902. It has been speculated that the post used the First Methodist Church as a meeting place - hence the windows being located there. Because one window was presented by the LGAR Dept. of Washington, it was further speculated that the annual dept. encampment might have held in Bremerton in 1902. It was common for the Allied Orders to erect a memorial in the host city of these encampments. However, the 1902 encampment was not held in Bremerton, so the reason for the windows being commissioned remains a bit of a mystery. Also unknown is who made the windows for the Post. However, and it has not yet been confirmed, the windows could be very similar to a window in the Kansas State Historical Society’s collection that is described as being a “large stained glass representation of the G.A.R. Medal” that was commissioned for the Memorial Building that housed the Kansas State Historical Society and also the GAR offices for Kansas.
According to Deirdre Prince, the church leader who made contact with Commander Richmond:
The GAR windows began life (as far as I can tell) around the same time as the old schoolhouse, around 1920. The lettering on the windows identifies the benefactors who commissioned them: the GAR Navy Yard Post #110 of Bremerton, WA and the Ladies of the GAR sponsored the second window. The windows are about 2 1/2 feet wide, and were originally very tall (8 or 9 feet) - rectangular on the bottom and a gothic arch on the top. They originally stood in the old Bremerton First Methodist church at 5th & Pacific in downtown Bremerton, a brick landmark for 42 years there. During WWII, the building served as a hospital and as Red Cross headquarters. It seems likely that this was the meeting place of the GAR in Bremerton going back at least to 1920. The Bremerton Methodist church was originally formed in 1899 and met in a wooden building until 1920.
By the 1960's, the old church in downtown Bremerton recognized the need to move to a less urban location, which it did in 1962. It is still exists today as the Bremerton First United Methodist Church. The old building was demolished in 1963 to make way for the Washington Mutual Bank building. Salvage operations began to sell and distribute whatever of value was not going to the new church building. The GAR windows fell into this category, and were acquired by the Indianola Community Church. Altogether, four tall gothic shaped windows came to Indianola - two GAR windows and two plain stained glass windows. These four windows had to each be divided in half to form eight smaller windows which would fit the small church sanctuary. Four of these are GAR - two gothic "tops" and two rectangular "bottoms".
The upper portions of the windows do not differ. These consist of the GAR membership badge, with eagle top, flag ribbon, and star. The two lower portions are different. One reads GAR in an arch near the "top", with PRESENTED BY / NAVY CITY POST 110 / BREMERTON. painted on a large pain below. Correspondingly, the other reads L / OF / GAR and PRESENTED BY / DEPARTMENT OF WASHINGTON / LADIES OF THE GRAND ARMY / OF THE REPUBLIC. These lowers appear to have no discernible damage aside from weathering and age. In all four cases, the colors are brilliant and very impressive. It's worth noting, all these windows are exposed to the outside elements. Since at least 1962, they have been used as exterior windows and survived as such until the vandalism in 2002. In the picture at the right, you can see where the medallion was tapped back in for purposes of taking the pictures only. The medallions are currently being sketched by an artist in an effort to capture their details.
Here is a close up on the Medallions:
The GAR Star – modeled after the Congressional Medal of Honor – showing the ideals of the GAR – Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty – the corner stone of the SUVCW today.
In September of 2003, members of Camp No. 1 and the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic converged on Indianola. The mission was to remove the four GAR windows, install new replacements energy efficient window panes, and try to do it in a manner that did not create additional work for the Church community. The windows were officially purchased and transferred to the Camp with funds coming from the National Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic. The cost to acquire these was the cost for the new energy efficient panes. Members of the Camp, Hal Bellerud, Lee Morgan (2004 Camp Commander), and Rod Fleck (Past Camp Commander 1994-2001) contributed a little blood, lots of sweat, and additional funds to the project.
Because of the age and fragile nature of the windows, and because it was extremely difficult to ascertain how these windows were put into the Church, it took a while before the work party knew what to do. Once a plan of action was pursued, the windows came out and the new ones went into their proper places. It was a very long day, but the effort was much appreciated by the Church!
With the windows safely secured and stored, the Camp now faces the daunting task of determining how these relics should be preserved. Or, as two members noted:
“we should really be careful for what we wish for in this Camp”
“Ya, because we usually get it and then we have to figure out what we do with it!”
All of the following thoughts are based upon the presumption that the Camp, working with the Ladies and others, will restore the windows in a manner that conserves their beauty and allows them to be enjoyed for years to come. However, having no “home” or building for them to become a part of – the focus has been creating a means that they become “static displays.” Here are some thoughts about where they may viewed:
« Donate one to a governmental building that would allow the window to be viewed in a manner that acknowledges both its beauty and its tribute to past and current veterans; or,
« Donate one to a museum within the region that would be able to properly display it for all to enjoy and reflect upon their purpose; or
« Create a display that allows one of the windows to become part of a moveable exhibit about the GAR, LGAR, the SUVCW and the DUVCW.
All of these ideas are “for future consideration.” Currently, the focus is learn more about the proper way to repair, conserve and preserve these remarkable treasures in tribute to our Union ancestors. Once the proper approach is determined on how best to proceed and a checklist of necessary steps is developed, then raising funds for the project – public and private it is hoped – will become the highest priority.
9713 Johnson Pt. Loop NE
Olympia, Washington 98516
Be sure to indicate that the donation is for the HIRAM GALE WINDOW PROJECT
If you would like to share information about these windows, keep up to date on the project, etc., please contact firstname.lastname@example.org