Monday, July 17, 2006

Sandusky Library's Stained Glass

Have you ever paused to notice the stained glass in the doors, transom and windows in the Adams Street entrance to the Sandusky Library? Tracking down the artist who designed them revealed quite a history.

The windows were designed by Jessie May Livermore. Jessie May was born and raised in Chicago, but her mother was a Carpenter from Bloomingville. When the library was under construction, Jessie May's father, Darius Livermore, a Chicago decorator, won the contract for the stained glass in the library. The local papers commented that it was appropriate that a woman designed the windows, as the library was such a labor of love for the women of Sandusky.

In her early life, Jessie May made her living as an artist. She took a four year course in architectural and mechanical drawing and continued her studies at the Dearborn Seminary, from which she graduated in 1889. In 1901, it was said that her designs had been used in some of the largest decorative contracts that have been given out in the country. She competed with seven leading designers to obtain the contract to design the decorative elements for the Gougar home in Lafayette, IN. Mrs. Gougar was a nationally known suffragist. Jessie May designed a six pane oriole window that depicted all the seasons in a single scheme. She also designed an apple blossom scheme for one room. In addition to art glass, she also designed frescoes for the interior of the house. The house still stands today in Lafayette, where it is a funeral home.
For reasons unknown, Jessie May gave up her career as an artist, and became a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, where she worked for 37 years, until being forced into retirement at age 65. She didn't receive a pension, and her retirement assets had suffered during the Great Depression.

Her father was a homesteader in Oklahoma, which is where Jessie May spent her summer and holiday vacations. She had hoped to start an artistic dude ranch. In the cellar of the home were rows of saddles, hand painted china, party favors, and chairs, as well as cases of fancy foods, all meant for the dude ranch she was never able to open.

Her health suffered dramatically after being forced into retirement and she died in December, 1935. She is buried in the family plot in Oakland Cemetery. Posted by Picasa

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