Another example of Horwood stained glass, this one can be seen at the entrance to the Frederic Remington Art Museum on Washington Street in Ogdensburg.
OGDENSBURG - A new not-for-profit group in the city has proposed construction of a $6-$8 million stained glass museum honoring the life and work of master stained glass artist Harry J. Horwood and his father.
Mr. Horwood, born in England in 1865, later emigrated to Canada with his family and eventually ended up in Ogdensburg, where in the late 1880s he operated a stained glass studio on Ford Street, along with his father Harry Sr. The Horwoods’ opened the studio after being awarded a contract to make windows for the new city hall and opera house in Ogdensburg.
The Ogdensburg opera house, which was destroyed by fire in 1926, featured a rose stained glass window deemed to be an exact copy of one of the windows that highlighted the Reims Cathedral in France. The work was considered to be one of the most beautiful stained glass windows in the north east, according to historian David E. Martin.
Mr. Martin, President of the recently established Horwood Stained Glass Museum board of directors, said Mr. Horwood, who learned his craft from his father Harry, resided in Ogdensburg until his death in 1947. The elder Mr. Horwood died in 1919, leaving his business to his son Harry James.
The younger Mr. Horwood moved the studio to the corner of Washington and Patterson streets in the city, and soon began to expand the business, which included making windows for numerous churches throughout the north country region and beyond.
Mr. Martin said Horwood family stained glass can be found in the north country from Plattsburg to Watertown, in New York City, across Canada and in Europe. He said two stained glass windows are displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and are considered to be priceless.
Sometimes compared to Louis Comfort Tiffany, Mr. Martin said those comparisons are not accurate. He said Horwood stained glass was hand blown opaque glass that was then carefully hand-painted, to create as much realism in the subject as possible. Tiffany stained glass on the other hand, was glass that was colored and blended as it was made, often layer upon layer.
Mr. Martin said the artistry and skill shown by the Horwood family is impossible to duplicate today.
“We don’t really know how they did it,” Mr. Martin said. “The artistry, the techniques that they used have all vanished.”
Mr. Martin, whose year’s of documenting Horwood glass across the north country have made him an expert, said he often refers to the work of Harry James Horwood as the “poor man’s artist” because he created windows for countless churches and homes for little money. He said he seldom signed his work, believing instead that the work he did for area churches was a testament to the glory of God.
“He did not get rich in the pursuit of his trade,” Mr. Martin said. “He often sold windows for as little as $35 and thus even the small country churches could afford beautiful windows.”
Mr. Martin said the Horwood family made windows for the smallest country churches and some of the largest cathedrals throughout England, Canada and the United States.
“There is hardly a church in the north country that hasn’t been touched by Harry James Horwood in one way or another,” he said.
As an example Mr. Martin said Mr. Horwood made all of the windows for the Young Memorial Church located in the hamlet of Brier Hill in the town of Morristown.
His work can also be seen on the front door of the Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg, and in churches in Potsdam and Parishville.
The Horwood Stained Glass Museum being proposed by Mr. Martin and his board of directors is to be located on the Ford Street Extension near the junction with Route 37 and near the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge. Mr. Martin said his not-for-profit organization has already bought the property and has architectural drawings of the proposed facility. He said the group is now poised to begin raising money, and hopes to have construction started in just a few years.
“It all depends on raising the money,” Mr. Martin said.
The group will seek state and federal grants and solicit donations, according to Mr. Martin. He said he believes the 24,000 square foot museum, which will house some the Horwood family’s greatest works, will be a huge hit with residents across the country and in Canada.
For more information call Mr. Martin at 315-323-8112 or visit the museum group’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Horwood-Stained-Glass-Museum/484735608320777
Mr. Martin will also give a presentation about the Horwood family, and its connection to Ogdensburg at the Ogdensburg Public Library April 11 at 6 p.m.