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Stained glass window from old church gets new life

By Staff | Apr 10, 2019

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Becky Hibschman from Muncy is showing where the family name was placed on the vented glass panel in this stained glass church window she is restoring from her home studio.

MUNCY – Recently a true work of art has been restored and donated to the Muncy Historical Society. This gift was originally part of the Lutheran Church that once stood on 100 N. Main Street in Muncy just across the alley next to the Historical Museum. The building still remains and was purchased by the Raymond and Pauline (Murray) Brown family. Before it became part of their family auto dealership, they removed some of the original stained glass windows. Some of them had dedication plates with family names on the bottom vented panels of the windows, usually made in memory of a loved one.

The windows were 14 feet long and paired in threes on either side of the church. The church was established in the 1850s according to Becky Hibschman from Muncy who restored two of the windows in the sanctuary with family names on them. One was the Gowers Family and the other was Sarah Good. Often these windows were financed by the families which helped to build the church.

In the recent issue of Now and Then, it states that George Gowers was a shoe and bootmaker. He and his wife, Ann (Repass) Gowers had at least eight children – Henrietta, William, Mary Emma, Charles, Preston, Harriet, Hopewell, and George P. Gowers.

Gowers had a store on Main Street in Muncy and grew its size with his mercantile business. He also sold pianos and organs along with his clothing and shoe inventory. Preston worked in his father’s store as a clerk and William partnered with his father and continued to manage the family business after his father died in 1897. The store closed its doors in 1907 according to Now and Then.

“The Patriach Gowers” played the French horn, and in as early as 1843, George was a member in the Muncy band.

PHOTO PROVIDED This restored stained glass window can be seen at the Muncy Historical Museum and was originally part of the first established Lutheran Church in Muncy. It was donated by the Murray Brown family and memorializes the Gower Family who ran a mercantile store in the mid 1800s.

Preston opened a business school in 1876. He led the Muncy coronet band and helped to form a dance orchestra. He also wrote musical compositions. “The Brandon Park March” has been played by the well known Repasz Band. Another one is called the “The Tot in the Tan Colored Shoes” and both of these sheets of music are part of the Muncy Historical Society’s collection.

Sarah Good was the daughter of William and Elinor Goddard. She became a doctor and married Jacob Good. She passed away in 1864.

Hibschman, who has been working in stained glass for 40 years and has a degree in fine arts and education, restored the windows for the Brown family. Using lead and stained glass inserts, she had the Gower window framed in cherry wood which she commissioned to another artist before it was donated to the museum.

The window is now mounted on the south side of the museum and “the colored glass catches the afternoon sunshine,” said Linda Poulton from the Historical Society.

“There are three different patterns throughout,” Hibschman said. Often churches would place six double sets of stained glass windows with three sets on each side of the church. Hibschman said the former Methodist Church that used to be on N. Market Street is similar. “The sanctuary was on the second floor,” she said.

In 1905 a new Lutheran church was built on the corner of Penn and Market Streets. “The St. Andrew Lutheran Church was built debt free with all new stained glass windows,” Hibschman said.