A Vermont news site, looking at stained glass windows in a former girls’ school owned by the Episcopal Dioceses of Vermont, wonders if they weren’t meant to foster an early kind of feminist empowerment.
Unusually for the pre-women’s suffrage era, females are the main characters in the New Testament scenes depicted on each window. Also notably, the windows are dedicated only to Hopkins’ wife and his four daughters, even though the couple had nine sons.
“There weren’t many places at that time focused on females’ education,” notes C.J. Spirito, current director of Rock Point School — the coed descendant of the institution founded in 1888. “The scenes in the windows are in support of the effort to put women to the fore.”
It isn’t clear who commissioned the window’s at Hopkins Hall or who made them, but there is speculation that windows and the school itself were expressions of Bishop John Henry Hopkins’ progressive ideas. Hopkins was the first bishop of Vermont, but it seems clear that he, himself, did not commission the windows.
The dedications inscribed in Gothic lettering at the bottoms of the windows hint at a manufacturing date. The triptych above the chapel’s altar, with the infant Jesus and his mother Mary dominating the center panel, includes the epigraph, “In Memory of Melusina, Wife of Bishop Hopkins.” John Henry Hopkins (1792-1868), the first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, was married to Melusina Muller, who died in 1884, according to ancestry.com. The couple had 13 children, four of whom are memorialized on the other windows. One of them honors the memory of Caroline Amelia, the couple’s fourth daughter, who died in 1907.
So the windows must have been installed after that date. Bishop Hopkins himself could not have commissioned the stained glass, having died 20 years before the construction of the building.
images by Kevin J. Kelley at Seven DaysVT