Stained Glass Windows
The Biemesderfer Center features many stained glass windows. The building, completed in 1895 as the original library, was said to be the centerpiece of the campus, the “gem of the school.”
Although the building was opened and occupied in 1895, it underwent many changes to include stained glass windows. The first major change was in March 1911 when the stained glass windows above the main entrance to the building were presented. At the main entrance is the window titled “Climb Though the Rocks be Rugged.” It was presented to the Normal School by the class of 1909 and dedicated to Dr. Andrew R. Byerly, a language professor.
The center window features a young man climbing a rocky peak, with the words printed below, “Climb Though the Rocks be Rugged.” The panels on the sides feature the lamp of learning with the word “Millersville” and initials “SNS” for State Normal School. The top semicircles feature the alumni “astra” star and the class pins of 1909.
During renovations in the 1970s, the next gift, given by the class of 1894, was the window “Charity,” one of the original 14 windows installed in the chapel of Old Main. The window is located in the downstairs lobby entrance to Biemesderfer. It features a woman protecting a child, who was based on the daughter of a member of the class. At the bottom is the word “Charity” and the phrase “The bond of perfectness.”
Upstairs in the Sherts Board Room there are many stained glass windows. The central window is in the middle and features a large circle with literary figures, and the side windows feature an open book and the lamp of learning. The top half of the central window is circular and is made up of eight tear-shaped windows, representing the eight departments of the school. The top-most window has the word “Pedagogy,” states Millersville Normal School’s mission of the day: the preparation of teachers. Clockwise from the window is “Natural Sciences;” “Philosophy, Religion, Sociology;” “News, Criticism;” “Arts;” “Fiction, Poetry;” “Biography, History, Travel” and “Language, Literature.” Below the circle in the corners are the “astra” stars, with red and blue points, showing the colors of the two literary societies. In the center of each star are the letters “MNS” for Millersville Normal School.
The lower half of the central window features four literary figures, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Shakespeare, John Keats and James Russell Lowell, with quotes underneath each. Under Hawthorne is a quote by Sir Francis Bacon, “Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.” The quote under Shakespeare is assumed to be from Dr. Lyte himself, “No one with books e’re needs to be alone, more powerful than the Monarch on his throne, He has in stately tomes at his command the wide and great of every age and land.” Under Keats is a quote from Philip Bailey’s work, “Festus,” “All rests with those who read, a work or thought is what each makes it to himself and may be full of great deep meaning, like the sea, with shoals of life rushing.” The final quote is under the figure of Lowell, a quote from Shakespeare, “Ignorance is the curse of God. Knowledge the wings wherewith we fly to Heaven. How empty learning and how vain is art, but as it mends the life and finds the heart.” On the left and right sides at the bottom of the windows are the letters NLS (Normal Literary Society) and PLS (Page Literary Society) and the words “First Pennsylvania State Normal School.”
On the left side of the central window is the panel featuring an open book in the top circle. The top circle has the phrase in the book “Fiat Lux,” translating to “let there be light.” Around the book is the phrase, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” The panel on the right side of the central window features the lamp of learning in a circle with the phrase, “The word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Under each of the circles are two separate panels, each are decorated and have an urn with flowers flowing out of them. They feature four fields of study, with feathers, or quills on each. From left to right is “Medicine,” showing a serpent and chalice, “Law,” featuring the scales of justice, “Theology,” featuring the cross and tablets of the Ten Commandments and finally, “Education,” showing an owl with books of academia.