Consecrated July 12th, 1931
Garrett Memorial Chapel on Bluff Point on Keuka Lake
A Word of Explanation to Visitors (written July 10th, 1931)
0n the two or three week-ends that the public has visited the as yet incomplete Memorial Chapel erected by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Garrett, to their son, Charles Williams Garrett; Mr. Garrett has found such a gratifyingly sincere and reverent interest evinced by hundreds of young and old from every walk in life; such a friendly desire to hear from him how such an idea was born, that he will undertake as briefly as possible to relate the circumstances since it is impossible to have a personal interview with each visitor.
The branch of the Garrett family to which we belong very probably are descended from one of the Jamestown colony settlers, listed on the roster as "John James Garrett, honest carpenter." On relating this "find" to a "Virginia gentleman" a few years ago, who was boasting of a more recent lineage, and whose aristocratic training made him "too proud to work," work being ANY form of manual labor; his retort was "there is nothing to be proud of in that, for it is well known that all of those chaps were either convicts or remittance men." The latter term covering that large body of English second sons, who, denied by the English law of primogeniture, of any share in the family estates, had fared forth in the wide world to make their fortunes, and had often been sustained by regular "remittances" of funds from home.
The Garrett family were farmers, agriculturists, professional men, etc., and in an unusual degree clannish, living in a family solidarity or communism that was intolerant towards interference with their private affairs, whether this interference came from individuals, or organizations. The generation preceding the present one consisted of six brothers, all successful in different lines, leaders in the financial, social and political development in their respective communities. Mention is made of this merely to interpret one of the deeper mental reactions prompting the erection of this Memorial to the sole surviving son, with whose passing ends the family line and name of this branch.
Evelyn and Paul Garrett have been blessed with seven children, three boys dying in infancy, and Charles in the bloom of young manhood.
Some years before the death of Charles, he often reminded me of the desirability of selecting some spot for a family burial place, and we had about decided to take a plot in a beautiful cemetery close to New York city. Stricken with that dread disease, tuberculosis, two years ago, all thought was given to accomplish his recovery, if modern medical skill could achieve it, but the progress of the disease was rapid, and in January, 1930, at the Desert Sanitarium, in Tucson, Arizona, this young man of 26, the recipient of many testimonials of esteem by all with whom he came in contact, was called into the nearer presence of his Lord. It being mid-winter, his body was taken to Los Angeles, and temporary sepulture made in the receiving vaults of the "Wee Kirk of the Heather" in the Forest Lawn 'Memorial Park, this "kirk" being a beautiful replica of the "kirk" in Maxwelton, shown to visitors and tourists as the "Annie Laurie" Church, made immortal by the poet Burns.
At the last interview with his Mother, Just before his death when they had talked of going "back home," Charles' eyes filled with tears as she was leaving, and he remarked, "Don't leave me out here. Take me home to Bluff Point, take me home." And the "Wee Kirk" gave birth to the idea. And this idea is not that merely of a place of sepulture, but rather of a shrine from which may radiate the fine ideals of young manhood, so that while deprived of doing the work that an ambitious young man dreams of, those virtues which he manifested in all his human relations with young and old, may radiate, and with the coming years and centuries grow with increasing lustre is time adds legend and poetry and idealisms to the memory of this family, united in death as in life.
While the chapel as designed by Mr. Mortimer Freehof of New York city is of Norman style of architecture rather than, Gothic, it has something of a reminder of the "Wee Kirk" in Glendale, Calif. Built of rugged Pennsylvania seam-faced granite, on the solid rock foundations of Bluff Point, it should stand to see another 2 000 years, or even until the era of Christianity has reached its five thousandth year. If, during these ages marked by centuries, rather than decades, there shall once in many years even, be some stricken soul benefited by a visit to this spot of unparalleled natural beauty, and leave strengthened and encouraged, we shall feel that Charles lives still, not alone in some far off heaven, BUT IN THAT HEAVEN ON EARTH where good deeds are practiced, and Christ reigns in the souls of men. Thus Death will have no sting, and the Grave be robbed of Victory.
Until today, I have not felt that this little Shrine would come into proper appreciation until a few centuries had added the softness and legends of age. I have rather feared that the idea would be regarded as quixotic, an attempt to glorify tile body, while all thought has been to idealize :Is much as human execution in stone and glass and color could, the spiritual fineness of a soul. But since it has been borne in oil me that the general run of visitors, who I feared would, or MIGHT, come merely from curiosity, have shown a reverence and a comprehension beyond my fondest hope, I will undertake to relate some of the hidden lessons (hat I hoped time would reveal, in the decorative designs such as windows, and statuary that is to come in due time.
In all of the building undertaken by me in 54 years of activity, I never had such satisfactory co-operation with contractors and workman. In his creations, Mr. Freehof has shown rare artistic skill, not only in the design of file building itself, but, in such decorative details as light fixtures, painting, ornamentation, etc. His taste has been most excellent. This Chapel "fits" the location as though it grew from the stone in the noble hill of Bluff Point.
The landscaping has been in charge of Prof. Jesse De France of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
The carved stone statue above the Chapel entrance symbolizes Youth, looking quizzically on the world, which he holds in his hands as though to see HOW he could shape it better, mould it to higher standards of ethical conduct and right living
The Stone Cherub at the corner of the Tower symbolizes eternal life * * * rebirth in the spirit of immortal childhood.
The decorations of the Vine, the Grape, the Oak Leaf, the Acorn, the Primrose, and other symbols of Life and Growth are shown in stone and plaster.
The Ship Weather Vane is the symbol of Enterprise and Discovery, seeking new worlds to conquer.
The Love Birds, guarding the nest of the young, are symbolic of family devotion and life.
The Bronze door to the Crypt lobby, shows pictorially the phases of human activities, Art and Agriculture, Music and Painting, Science and Astronomy.
All are crowned by Motherhood, that finest expression of Love.
The contractors, the J. D. Taylor Construction Corporation, of Syracuse, spared no attention to details in carrying in- out the wish to build strongly and well. No detail was overlooked, whether relating to permanence or beauty, and the workmen vied with each other in trying to put a "sermon in stones."
I have relied on the windows as the primer of instruction, and recalling how meaningless to ME were the stereotyped stained glass of the Cathedrals as well as the "kirks" it has been my good fortune to see, I shocked the usual designers with my ideas, and they "would have none of me." Mr. Freehof had conferences with three of the men of outstanding reputation, whose work stands out as the best of the age, and when my ideas were laid before them, they refused to consider the work unless complete latitude were given to work Out each HIS own idea, with no suggestion or interference from me.
At this juncture I feel that I was exceedingly fortunate in making the acquaintance of Mr. Frederick Wilson of Los An Angeles a man making of mature years, an artist of wide repute, but best of all a man of sympathetic soul, and fine imagination. After several
visits with him, brought about through our mutual friend, Mr. J. C. Spaulding, he was commissioned to sketch the windows for the Crypt, and later for the entire Chapel. Whether his work will meet the commendation of the patrons of modernism or the approval of future "masters" is relatively unimportant to me. With a rare genius he has the ideas as inspired by Mrs. Garrett, and poorly expressed by me. We believe that with I slight explanation of the subjects treated in each window you will catch this meaning and profit by the lesson sought to be "carried on."
In a day when large parts of the population seem, to have run amuck, and are striking at the fundamentals of Christian civilization -the family, and the church of Christ - it seems appropriate to dwell on the importance of a continuing Christian development, with the FAMILY as the CORNERSTONE. In seeking for a text that would be readily understandable in pictures (the earliest language of mankind), we have selected a few thoughts from the modern poets, the difficulty being to select from so much good material at hand.
It Seemed appropriate that the first window should illustrate a fine picture of immortality in nature, so Tennyson's ringing story of the perpetually beautiful and useful BROOK was chosen. The closing lines after a course of laughter and song, as it went
down to the sea, being as you recall:
"And men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever."
Good impulses, prompting good deeds, constantly spring from pure hearts as the springs feed the brooks, and live or "go on" forever.
Next, we again drew inspiration from Tennyson's Idylls Of the King, and in Sir Galahad, the Knight of Truth, who knew no fear, is pictured the ideal youth, seeking the Holy Grail. And, finding it in a prison , where with body chained by disease, the quest comes to a beautiful end with an angel hand presenting the coveted prize .
In the borders of this window Mr. Wilson has woven skillfully a few of the outstanding events denoting the progress of Christian civilization, such as the Star of Bethlehem, the Norman Conquest, the Bill of Rights, where the vassals and nobles wrested from King John the Magna Carta, --- the first recognition of the inherent rights to property (and life even) ever granted the common man --- the Printing Press, the Liberty Bell, and a cut of the Curtiss flying machine, which was built at Hammondsport, within sight of this Chapel.
The third window is from Eugene Field's adorable children's poem of Wynken and Blyken and Nod, ,where three little "tots" in their beds, decide to take a voyage into the land of their dreams, the great beyond in the Sky, so they rig tip a sail on an old wooden shoe, and go "fishing for stars." What a beautiful picture this brings to us of our three "wee" boys, sailing happily in the sky, FISHING FOR STARS. God bless the poets who interpret for us the deepest things of the soul.
And then comes Abou Ben Ahdem, best told in the short poem. How few of us, (Can ANY of us?) comprehend GOD, that Master influence which puts into harmonious workings a universe which we are only beginning to explore with more and more powerful telescopes? But any of us CAN "love our fellow men" who are all around us, and yet, how few understand or know the inner workings and motives of his heart and soul. But how easy to reach with sympathy and helpful encouragement if we really try. "Write me down then, as one who loves the best his fellow men" is a noble ideal to try to live up to. "And Lo Ben Ahdem's name led all the rest."
Mother love needs no explanation, sad is the fate of man or boy who has not lived under the influence of a noble self sacrificing Mother. Again we have in the margin some happy illustrations; for instance, the bird who feeds its young with drops of blood squeezed from its own breast. ******* The Pelican --- ever a symbol of the self-sacrificing love of Christ.
In Longfellow's Children's Hour, Mr. Wilson has outdone even his own fine genius. Ordinarily this beautiful poem brings to us the hour AFTER twilight, when just before being tucked away for the night, the children troop down for IL last minute frolic with fond parents who are saving that it is "lime to be in bed," and each moment snatched from the sandman is just so much gain in each child's treasury of memories. Stolen sweets!
But Mr. Wilson creates his own pictures and ideals, and we have here the hour just BEFORE twilight. Father has come from his work, not the drudgery and hopeless fight for a mere existence the French painter, Corot, immortalized in his "Man with the Hoe," but the vigorous fine young American, to whom work is a privilege, a badge of the aristocracy of accomplishment, nothing degrading whether with the hands or a white collar job, but inspiring WORK that will not be kept from its reward. He has doffed his smock, and put on his "dinner jacket," a veritable Joseph's coat, while Mother, just from preparing the evening meal, which her intelligent face and fine bearing g shows must be a feast, has also come to the children's hour for a moment of family fun while the setting sun gives brilliance and joy to every face. And with their building blocks, the children have been putting their ambitions into words "Carry On," "Peace with Honor," and best of all showing a household on firm foundations.
"God Is Love, Love Is God." Each of us can understand with childish faith the God of Love. Who can love a God of Vengeance, of punishments, of vindictiveness?
And in the borders the artist has glorified such children's rhymes from Mother Goose as "The Cow Jumped Over the Moon," "Little Bo Peep" and others easy to discern. Religion is happiness. Where health presides, and work is pleasure, heaven is not far off.
And last in the group is Tennyson's immortal "Crossing the Bar." This is the nearest allusion to death permitted, but how different from the dread river Styx, with its silent boatman. Here the soul sets out in majesty of full sail and a fresh wind, with Angels wafting it on to the greater worlds beyond.
"sunset and Evening Star, and one clear call for me * * * * * * And may there be no mourning at the bar, when I put out to sea."
One more Poet's window remains to be made, Eugene Field's "Little Boy Blue." This window has a peculiar significance, which will be told when the window is in place. While it will be smaller, Mr. Wilson is taking his time, determined to make it a masterpiece, as if the ones described were not "sermons in glass." At any rate, they are not meaningless kaleidoscopes of color, --- they are beautiful, and at the same time are crowded with lessons that the average man and woman, boy or girl, can understand.
To the Judson Art Studios of Los Angeles I love to pay the fine tribute that in the execution of this work, every man in every capacity seems to have vied with his co-workers in trying to put into beautiful form the fine spirit of the several poems as illustrated by Mr. Wilson, and worked out under the personal supervision of Mr. Judson, himself with the soul of the fine artist.
The windows for the chapel proper, now in work, are each of some scene in Christ's life, the point in each of which will be plainly brought out so that "he who runs may read" all with the idea of showing Christ the MAN in some title of good citizenship, an exemplar without peer, an expounder of the finest philosophy ever enunciated for man's guidance and onward march through evolution to a perfected, eternity.
If as now seems possible, our fears of a criticism of quixotic aberration are not to be realized, and if without waiting for the influence of a few centuries, in which legends can be built up, we shall find an appreciative public; we shall know that Providence, our unseen Guide, has been willing that our boy shall live in inspiration to good deeds and higher ideals, and that though not in the flesh, yet his fine spirit is being made manifest, and that GOD REIGNS.
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform.
July 10th, 1931
(This copy from the University of Rochester, Rush Rhees Library)