Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Tiny Pieces of History
To follow up from the previous entry in these pages, the Prolix Patriot and family are settling into their new home and have experienced firsthand the joys of living in a historic urban neighborhood. Every yard is full of archaeological evidence (i.e., dead people's trash). In our case, there are countless little shards of colored glass all around the yard right on the surface. With the arrival of warmer weather and more extensive landscaping projects, there’s no telling what other discoveries we will make.
A search of property records reveals that the glazier who left behind these tiny pieces of history was a certain Ludwig Von Gerichten who was born in 1873 in Hesse in the newly-formed German Empire. It's unclear when he emigrated to the United States, but sometime in the 1890's, Ludwig and his brother Theodore had settled in Columbus, Ohio and founded the Von Gerichten Art Glass Company.
More than 850 churches in the United States have windows that were made by hand at the Von Gerichten glassworks. One such example is the old Trinity Lutheran Church and another example is the now-defunct St. Leo Parish, where Ludwig himself was probably a parishioner. According to one source, the brothers parted ways and the company was dissolved in 1931. Their factory--which was a work of art in its own right--was eventually demolished in the 1960's to make way for the Interstate Highway System.
The end of the Von Gerichten Art Glass Company was not the only tragedy in Ludwig’s life. Some years before that, his wife Katherine died and records indicate that he sold his house and traveled between his glass studios in Europe and the United States. Today, they are both buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, reunited more than 30 years after Katherine passed away much too young.
However, the legacy of the Von Gerichten brothers lives on. The Franklin Art Glass Company was co-founded in 1924 by the son of the shop foreman of the Von Gerichten glassworks, Henry Helf, and is located just a few blocks from where the old Von Gerichten factory once stood. The Franklin Art Glass Company still makes and repairs stained glass windows in the Old World tradition to this very day.