Stained glass window from Campus School recreated, remounted at WWU

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 26, 2013 

Campus Window

Anne Hildebrand, left, of Bellingham and her brother, John Morey, attended a Campus School reunion May 17, 2013, at Woodring College of Education, where a replica of a stained glass window from the school was unveiled. Morey was a fifth-grader in the school when he designed the window. The school has since closed and the original window has disappeared, but Niki Hildebrand, an artist relative from North Carolina, created the replica that now hangs in a classroom in Miller Hall, the building that once housed the Campus School.

CAROLE TESHIMA — COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

John Morey and Anne Hildebrand - a Bellingham brother and sister with fond 1940s memories of the old Campus School at Western Washington University - were enchanted when a special stained glass window replication was recently unveiled at a school reunion.

As the window's creator, 35-year-old Niki Hildebrand, said, "It really is quite a remarkable, circular story."

The seven-decade tale began when Morey designed a stained glass window for the Campus School as a fifth-grader in 1940.

They sat down to tell the tale when Niki visited Bellingham before attending a session at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood.

Niki, who grew up in London and sells stained glass to international customers out of her studio in North Carolina, earned a bachelor's of fine arts from Rhode Island School of Design.

Anne is the widow of James Hildebrand II, whom many locals will remember as a longtime math teacher at Western. He was the father of James Hildebrand III, a Bellingham High School graduate who became a banker in London and reared daughter Niki there.

Question: John and Anne, what do you think of Niki's colorful replication of John's design?

John: Niki was very faithful to my original design, but she improved on it. It was a bit of a miracle to see it after such a lengthy interval. (His design became part of a Campus School reading room, which is still part of what later became Miller Hall.).

Anne: We were all thrilled to see it at the unveiling (May 17). We had 50 to 60 people attend. Former Campus School students are a very close group.

Q: John, how did you come to design a stained-glass window?

John: It was an assignment for our fifth-grade class. I was happy to be one of four students to have a design selected. (Alumni are raising money to re-create the other three windows.)

Niki and I talked about the design for the re-creation on one of her visits to Bellingham. She worked from a black-and-white photo, which was all we had.

Niki: John showed the talent that led him to a career as a mechanical engineer at Boeing. I talked with him about the meaning of his design. The telescope, planet Saturn and book on the window represent knowledge, and the birds and leaves represent nature.

Q: What happened to the original stained glass windows?

Anne: Nobody knows who created them or where they were taken. (The school closed in 1967.)

Niki: It really is an amazing story. I always loved art as a girl, winning contests, but I didn't become fascinated by stained glass until I attended an exhibition of furniture that used stain glass. I had thought I was interested in furniture design, but I realized it was stained glass I loved.

Q: Anne, why was Campus School special?

Anne: The school (which went through ninth grade in their day) was created so student-teachers would have a chance to learn on campus. But we had experienced, talented veteran teachers to oversee several student-teachers in each classroom. It was a wonderful school.

Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham freelance writer.

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