What are the stained glass windows in Mary Lyons?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Around the Mary Lyons main kitchen, there are several antiquated, stained glass windows. Five of the windows sport the names of the colleges Mount Holyoke, Vassar, Harvard, Smith, and Princeton. There are also two other stain-glassed windows with illegible words. Mount Holyoke College, Vassar College, Harvard’s Radcliffe College, and Smith College are all members of the “Seven Sisters.” However, Princeton is not a member.

Nevertheless, when Mary Lyons was established in 1913, it was an all-girls preparatory school named after Mary Lyons, a co-founder of Mount Holyoke College. “It seems pretty likely that [the stained-glass windows] are original to the building, since ML was built as a girls’ boarding school. It just makes sense that they would include symbols of colleges they wanted
to inspire the girls to go on to,” Jim Moskowitz ’88 said, a past resident of Mary Lyon. Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, and Wellesley College are the three other schools that joined together in 1927 under the nickname of the “Seven Sisters.” It was a self-applied nickname for the seven all-girl colleges that promoted private, independent women’s collegiate education.

“The first floor of the central section was devoted to common rooms with a large living room. On a slightly lower level was the refectory that was decorated with murals and stained glass windows with representations of various college shields. The H. Miller Crist classroom building, which burned down in 1982, held a library which had more extensive stained glass windows containing scenes from classical and modern literature and portraits of famous scholars,” said Susanna Morikawa, a staff member of Friends Historical Library, the resident expert on town and college architecture and the history of the old Mary Lyons School.


The article stated that two of the seven windows had illegible words. According to third-year ML resident Megan Nelson, one window has the seal of Wellesley College (and says “Siglium Collegii Wellesliani”) while the seventh window has the seal of Yale University, although the name of the institution is not printed on the window.

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