By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — As Father George McDaniel spoke to a group of people, the sun peaked out from behind the clouds and brought the restored stained glass windows to life in the Lewis Board Room at St. Ambrose University.
On Dec. 6, Fr. McDaniel, professor emeritus and historian, proudly showed off the windows and provided their history during an open house. The board room, a former chapel, is located in Ambrose Hall.
When Ambrose Hall underwent renovations in 2013, all windows in the building were replaced with new ones. The stained glass windows were not replaced but restored, and that took time, Fr. McDaniel said. The windows and their protective coverings were removed by Glass Heritage. At the studio, the lead was removed and replaced. “The lead was loose and sagging. It needed to be redone. This was a good step in preserving these windows,” Fr. McDaniel said. All the windows were completed this past summer.
The original chapel was dedicated in 1902. Among the few remaining elements are the stained glass windows. One of the windows depicts St. Henry and was a gift from alumni priests in honor of Bishop Henry Cosgrove. Bishop Cosgrove offered two rooms at Sacred Heart Cathedral’s school for the start of St. Ambrose College.
A window depicting St. Aloysius Gonzaga was a gift from Father Michael Nolan in memory of his brother, Father Robert Nolan, a priest of the Davenport Diocese who served at St. Ambrose College. He died while serving as a pastor at St. Mary Parish-Nichols.
The St. John the Evangelist window was a gift of Catherine Cassidy in memory of her son, Father John Cassidy, Class of 1887. Fr. Cassidy was ordained in 1891 and served at St. Ambrose. At the time of his death, he was the pastor of St. Mary Parish in Williamsburg. The St. Joseph window was a gift from Msgr. Anton Niermann in memory of his sister, Helen Francisca Niermann. Msgr. Niermann was ordained in 1859, and arrived at St. Kunigunde Parish (later St. Joseph Parish) in Davenport and served there from 1859-1914.
The window of St. Ambrose, patron saint of the university, was a gift from Mary McDonough in memory of her son, Father William McDonough, Class of 1889. Fr. McDonough was pastor of the parishes in Valley Junction and Cummings, Iowa. Mary McDonough was the first housekeeper at St. Ambrose.
The large, central window and a rose window above it represent the Annunciation and the vision of St. Anthony of Padua. These windows were gifts of Frederick H. Bartemeyer II in memory of his parents, Frederick and Elizabeth Bartemeyer. The younger Bartemeyer was involved in the family grocery business in Davenport. His brother, Herman, was a member of the first class to enter St. Ambrose College.
Ecce Homo and Mater Dolorosa (two small rose windows) are gifts from the Class of 1901 and 1902. Angel windows were gifts from Mr. and Mrs. William Gainan and from Father J.T.A. Flannagan in memory of his brother, George Flannagan. Fr. Flannagan was the second president of St. Ambrose.
Fr. McDaniel noted that the Lewis Board Room is not used as much as it could be. Since the Rogalski Center was built, even board meetings have been moved over there. “Rogalski is better equipped, but I wish the (Lewis) board room would get used more.”
Cost for the renovation of the windows was $90,000. St. Ambrose thanked Fr. McDaniel for his support of the renovation project.