Christmas in the Park: A look at the Morse's Tiffany windows

The Ruth Seely Dunning Memorial Window was made by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company sometime before 1897 for the chapel of the Association for the Relief of Respectable, Aged, Indigent Females in New York City. It is one of the windows displayed each year by the Morse Museum at Christmas in the Park in Winter Park.

For the 38th year, Central Floridians will begin celebrating the most festive time of year at Christmas in the Park. On Thursday, Dec. 1, Winter Park's Central Park hosts holiday music from the Bach Festival Society Choir and Brass Ensemble.

But the visual beauty of the event is provided by nine stained-glass windows created by artisans of Louis Comfort Tiffany's New York firm at the end of the 19th century.


The Morse Museum of American Art, which co-presents the event with the city of Winter Park, is a world-renowned treasury of Tiffany works of art. The nine windows, which are illuminated during Christmas in the Park, are part of the museum's permanent collection.

Eight of the windows were created specifically for the chapel of the Association for the Relief of Respectable, Aged, Indigent Females, a New York charity founded in 1814 to aid poverty-stricken women, including widows of soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. The eight women commemorated by these windows volunteered at the association during a period of expansion between 1881-83 when it moved to a new headquarters.


In the 1970s, the museum acquired the old chapel windows from the association, and soon after, a Christmas tradition was born in Winter Park. Here's a closer look at these unique treasures — and the women who inspired them.

Julia Henop Memorial Window

Coverage in The New York Times, including her 1887 obituary, provide clues to Julia Henop. The widow of Frederick L. Henop was clearly a member of high society, as evidenced by her affiliation with the casino on Narragansett Pier, R.I. — it was typical for the New York upper crust to spend their summers in Rhode Island. Her window, made of more than 1,000 pieces of glass, includes lilies, a symbol of purity in religion.

Almy Townsend Hicks and Charlotte Brevoort Hicks Memorial Window

The window of these sisters, is emblazoned with a large cross. Together, the siblings ensured the Association for the Relief of Respectable, Aged, Indigent Females would receive a large donation from their estates after they died. Almy Hicks died on Dec. 18, 1862, and Charlotte Hicks two years later, on Dec. 31.

Eliza M. Morgan Memorial Window

The lilies featured on the Morgan window wind through a gold framework evocative of medieval illuminated manuscripts. Tiffany, a world traveler, often incorporated ideas from observations abroad — such as Celtic manuscripts or Persian decorative patterns. Eliza was the wife of Edwin Denison Morgan, governor of New York from 1858-1862.

Ruth Seely Dunning Memorial Window


Ruth Dunning was married to a prominent New York attorney, Benjamin Franklin Dunning. Her window depicts a cross enveloped in leafy ivy — a religious symbol of hope. Tiffany found his greatest inspiration in nature, so the windows mix Christian icons with flowers, palms and vines.

Sophia Catherine Minton Memorial Window

Sophia Minton's husband, Charles A. Minton, came from old New York money — and worked with money. He was financial editor of the The New York Herald and a member of the Stock Exchange. Her window isn't concerned with such worldly pursuits as wealth, instead displaying a cross against a colorful pattern.

Anne Innes, Anna Innes and Anna B. Innes Memorial Window

Presumably the three Innes women, all from the same family, had nicknames — or conversation would likely have been quite confusing at family gatherings. Their window shows clematis, a climbing plant related to the buttercup, ascending a trellis toward a dove, a common Christian depiction of the Holy Spirit.

Katherine Hinman Hamlin Memorial Window


Katherine Hamlin, who died in 1903, had served as secretary to the association's Board of Managers. Her window depicts the story of Hagar, as recounted in the Bible's book of Genesis. Banished from her home to the desert, Hagar and her young son, Ishmael, would have died of thirst. But an angel brought forth a well of water and saved them. Tiffany appears to have taken artistic license with the desert setting — adding trees and foliage to the window.

McCorkle Memorial Window

Ms. McCorkle remains a mystery — this window was missing its dedication placard when the Morse obtained it. Through process of elimination, it is believed to be the McCorkle Memorial window, as cited in an 1897 pamphlet produced by the Tiffany company. The IHS inscription is a shortened form of what, in English, would be the statement, "Jesus, savior of men."

'Christmas Eve'

Artist Thomas Nast Jr., whose father was a famous political cartoonist, designed this window for his sister, Mable Nast Crawford, and it hung in the grand foyer of her home. It is unknown if the window's bearded figure is meant to be St. Nicholas, or a depiction of God the father, as representations of the baby Jesus and the Holy Spirit as a dove, make up the remainder of the Christian trinity. Whatever the case, the window clearly has a Christmas theme, as seen in the mistletoe and evergreen boughs lit with candles.


Christmas in the Park

When: 6:15-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1; the choral performance will conclude about 8 p.m.

Where: Central Park in downtown Winter Park, off Park Avenue and Morse Boulevard

Cost: Free