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Heinigke and Bowen Ensemble_Old First Reformed Church_Brooklyn
Old First North Ensemble

1 The Great Rose over Seventh Avenue

2 Triptych ensemble depicting three parables designed by Otto Heinigke of Heinigke and Bowen

Tour the Windows

729 Carroll St
@ 7th Av
718 638 8300
Reformed Church | Park Slope, Brooklyn

William Willet_Christ Detail_Old First Reformed Church
The stained glass of Old First is a remarkable collection of single and triple lancet panels and three monumental rose windows. The pictorial lancets are created in a unified “opalescent” style; the construction is intricate with certain panels having as many as three layers, while the roses are geometric glass mosaics with a center of painted glass. The proportion of glass to wall in the sanctuary is very high and the tracery thus provides a structural role in addition to housing the windows.

After construction of the Sanctuary, there was not enough money remaining to purchase the quality of windows which the architectural design called for. At this point, members of the congregation stepped forward to sponsor individual panels, creating lasting works of art and memorials in honor of beloved members. The most accomplished stained glass artists and studios were employed to create these masterpieces of art and glass which include works by Otto Heinigke, William Willet, and the Tiffany Studio. Shown above is a detail from Willet's design for the family of a physician, Dr. Theodore Mason, showing the face of Christ. Learn more about this window here.

Tour the Windows: Artist and design notes, detailed photographs, and donor families can be found here.

Restoration of the Stained Glass

All windows show deterioration since their installation; except for one window, the glass has not been touched since its installation 120 years ago. Some decades past, Lexan Plexiglas was installed on the exterior of the windows in an attempt to protect and insulate; issues facing neighborhood churches at that time. Unfortunately, the Lexan has aged rapidly, clouding severely, and little light now passes through the glass. Thus the already soot-dirtied windows are duller, and the sanctuary is now much darker than intended. Worse, the Lexan has hastened the deterioration of the windows by preventing the natural “breathing” of stained glass. Moisture is trapped on the lead came supports which causes electrolytic corrosion to the tracery, weakening their structural integrity. We hope to remove the Lexan soon, under a careful plan of restoration.

The good news is that the restoration process has begun; the first window to be restored is one by the Tiffany Studios picturing the Samaritan Woman at the Well as she listens to the revelations of Christ. Restoration of all of the windows will be a long term process.

Art: Our Tojetti Painting

The Empty Tomb, measuring 14 by 21 feet, by Virgilio Tojetti, is a rendition of Luke’s account of the resurrection. The women are Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Joanna Salome. We love our painting. It adds energy, drama, strength, femininity, and wonder to our worship; the painting was the subject of an Easter Sermon by Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter, which you may read here.
Virgilio Tojetti_The Open Tomb_Old First Reformed Church_Brooklyn
Virgilio Tojetti was born in Rome in 1851. Virgilio had a brother Eduardo, born the same year (assume twin). Both boys trained with their father, Domenico Tojetti; Virgilio studied later in Paris with Gérôme and Bouguereau. The father, Domenico, was associated with the Torlonio Princes and painted in their palaces and in the churches of Rome.

Following other artist friends who had emigrated, the family moved to Guatemala in 1867, then Mexico. It was a rough crossing; all of their belongings were lost sailing around the storm-ridden Horn. In 1870-71 the Tojettis came to San Francisco. Virgilio moved on to paint in New York while his brother remained in the west. Exhibitions of Virgilio's work were held in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, National Academy of Design and the Brooklyn Art Association, to name only three. Tojetti died in 1901.

Although his works can be found in a number of museums and private collections, a canvas of this size and religious subject matter are rare, and this is an important painting by Tojetti. In New York, much of his output was decorative murals for theaters, many of which have been destroyed by developers, making this painting especially prized. It is possible that it is the only Tojetti on public view in New York today.

A good cleaning by a professional restorer would bring out its hidden brilliance.

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