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south rose
1 Detail of large rose window showing the crown representing The Kingdom of God

Old First Reformed Church
2 The southern stained glass triple lancet ensemble, and organ

2 Detail of the "Return of the Prodigal Son" by the studio of Heinigke and Bowen – the father's robe entails three layers of textured glass to effect the pattern of the textile

center rose
3 Center of Tiffany rose window above the 'Parable of the Talents' displaying the Celtic Cross

Tiffany Studios
"[Louis Comfort Tiffany]'s windows surpassed in quality and quantity, any that had preceded them." This quote, from the fly leaf of Alastair Duncan's book, Tiffany Windows (1980), an indispensable resource for Tiffany researchers, just begins to touch on their significance. In this book, Old First's two windows are included in an inventory of Tiffany stained glass. Upon reviewing the many colored plates, a similarity is noted between our windows and others in the book, most noticeably a resemblance between The Parable of the Talents and flanking panels of a window in St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Paterson, New Jersey, The River of the Water of Life, described as, "…one of Tiffany's most successful ecclesiastical commissions." The dark color scheme and design elements, such as the massive columns and lintels, are similar in both.

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

Heinke Windows Parable of the Talents The Empty Tomb sp
This ensemble receives stronger light than its sister opposite, but is greatly dimmed by pollutants. The photograph is vibrant thanks to photo editing rather than actual appearance, and shows the windows appearing closer to what they might look like if cleaned, though cleaning would allow for softer lighting with less hot spots. In reality, the windows have a darker, richer color scheme; their subtlety is striking.

Old First Reforned Church interior_south transeptspThese windows are less unified thematically than the Heinigke and Bowen windows on the opposite wall, but are unified via a similar color palette, which was employed by three separate studios.

The crown in the central medallion of this third massive Rose, above the trio, represents the Kingdom of God.

One can see perched to the right of this ensemble, a magnificent organ designed and built by the Roosevelt Organ Works for this specific site; it is fully attuned to the sanctuary’s impeccable acoustics. One cannot imagine the church without either its stained glass or its towering music; the two cannot be separated.

Old First views its sanctuary holistically, honoring all of the arts and senses. The 1890 Steinway grand piano was restored this year, already benefiting music groups and concert goers, and enlivening the services. As to the organ, restoration is ongoing. This great room already reverberates with its restored foundation tones; the base sounds rumble aloft to the spaces around and above these glorious windows, bringing the 1890s alive, the heyday of Brooklyn, when the instruments were new and the windows were bright.

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Return of the Prodigal Son_Old First Window_Otto Heinigke_Brooklyn sp

The Return of the Prodigal Son

The well-known parable of the return of the Prodigal Son is depicted at the moment the Father welcomes his Son home after the dissipation of the inheritance. The Father’s robe is the outstanding feature of this window and is representative of Otto Heinigke's skill. If you look closely, you will see opalescent glass in three layers; detail shown at right.

The donors claim descent from a knight of the Crusades; this is reflected in the medallion to the upper left, with its crown, wreath, and Star of Bethlehem. The cross and horns in the point of each star overlap to suggest the hull and mast of a crusader’s ship. The memorial inscription, amid white chrysanthemums below, reads, “I will arise and go to my father." —Luke 15:18.

Suydam Family Memorial Window
The dedication of this window is to the Suydam Family, descended from Hydrick Rycken who came to America in 1663. In 1710 his family adopted as their surname the name of his birthplace Suyt-dam meaning “South of the Dam”. The white chrysanthemums in the border are softly sculptured pieces of heavy opalescent glass. The window was given by James Schoonmaker Sudyam, a banker and son of Moses and Mary (Schoonmaker) Suydam, who lived on Lincoln Place. James was a deacon at Old First.

Suydam Family Memorial Window_Old First Reformed Church_Brooklyn

If you are interested in learning more about the Suydam family of Old First, browse the History of the First Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Breuckelen, now known as The First Reformed Church of Brooklyn, 1654 to 1896, put out by the Consistory of Old First in 1896, which is searchable online through Google Books.

To read more about the designer, Otto Heinigke, see the North Transept page.

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Parable of the Talents_Tiffany Studio_Old First Reformed Churchsp

The Parable of the Talents

This unsigned window at the center of the ensemble has been ascribed to the Tiffany Studio in church lore. Thanks to research and correspondence by Wayne Boucher of Cambridge, UK, who has found the window listed in a 1972 version of Tiffany's 1910 list of windows (which is considered by experts as an accurate copy of the original) the evidence is very convincing. Mr. Boucher has also found this window and our Christ and the Woman of Samaria stained glass written about in the New York Times on September 25, 1891, at the time of the Sanctuary's dedication, and both windows were attributed in the Times to the Tiffany Studios. Thus we can more accurately credit the work as a Tiffany Studio piece.

At the top is a truncated Celtic cross. The scene depicts the moment in the parable when two of the servants report their profit to their master. The inscription reads, “His Lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord." —Matthew 25:21.

Cortelyou Family Memorial Window
This window is given in memory of Jacques Cortelyou by his children, descendants of an old French Huguenot / Dutch family. Jacques resided in the 17th century Cortelyou homestead on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Third Street, known today as "The Old Stone House." The farmland and homestead (headquarters of George Washington) were the site of the first armed contest of the American Revolution, "The Battle of Brooklyn" and can be seen in various paintings of the encounter.

Cortelyou Family Memorial Window_Old First Reformed Church_Brooklyn

Note similarities of design in this window with the Spence memorial window to its right (below on this page).

If you are interested in learning more about the Cortelyou family of Old First, browse the History of the First Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Breuckelen, now known as The First Reformed Church of Brooklyn, 1654 to 1896, put out by the Consistory of Old First in 1896, which is searchable online through Google Books.

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The Empty Tomb

In the lancet on the right hand side we find the story of the Empty Tomb of the Resurrection. At the top of this window is an open Bible. The scene is of Mary, the The Empty Tomb_Old FIrst Reformed Churchspmother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene being greeted by an angel at the now empty tomb on Easter morning. This window follows the account of Matthew 28, while the great painting above the chancel by Virgilio Tojetti, follows Luke. The delicate shades of glass depict the sunrise. On the left side not visible in this photograph, are three small crosses on the hill of Calvary. The inscription in the panel below reads, “He is not here, he has risen,” Matthew 28:6, “And if Christ be not risen, your faith is in vain."
—I Corinthians 15:14.

We have not yet found a definitive attribution for this window. Several stained glass experts believe it also to be a Tiffany. Due to the darkness of the panels and distance from the floor, it is hard to see, but the layout, scale and coloring, especially the sky and small rose above, seem to reflect Christ and the Woman of Samaria, and make a flanking pair on the south wall. Perhaps something will be discovered when the window is finally restored. The memorial window, below, is exceptionally lovely. If one loosk closely, one might also notice a resemblance in the frame around the memorial inscription with that of the Tiffany The Parable of the Talents memorial to its left (above on this page) and mahogany-colored stones below, which support the frame, and the bright jewel stones used as a border. More similarities may be found on inspection.

Spence Family Memorial Window
Another angel, surrounding the inscription, gazes calmly and is conjectured to be a portrait of Margaret T. Spence, in whose memory the window was given. This small gem is a favorite of many who see it, but sadly, both the studio and the designer are unknown. There is no history given of Margaret or her family in the "History of the First Dutch Reformed Church of Breuckelen" but a little research discovers that she is likely the Margaret T. Spence married to William Spence, listed in the 1800s census for Kings County. If so, she was born about 1838 in New York to Scottish parents. William was a coal dealer with parents also born in Scotland.

Margaret Spence Memorial Window_Old First Reformed Church_Brooklyn
Again, note the resemblance in the frame around this memorial inscription with that of the Tiffany memorial to its left (above on this page).

North Transept
The Great Rose
Single Lancets
The Samaritan Woman
Restoration: The Samaritan Woman

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