University Museums

Title: Gold Star Hall Stained Glass Windows
Name: Architectural Ornamentation
Medium: Leaded stained glass
Dimensions: 93 1/2 × 41 in. (237.5 × 104.1 cm)
Classification: Architecture, Architectural Ornamentation and Elements
Credit Line: Comissioned by Iowa State College. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Memorial Union
Object Number: U2011.183a-l
More Information
The artist that designed the stained glass windows in Gold Star Hall is Harold W. Cummings, a member of the Class of 1918, whose college program was interrupted by military service in World War I. It was appropriate that he should have been selected as the designer. In addition to designing the windows, Mr. Cummings supervised their construction and installation. In effect he was designing a memorial not only for those who gave their lives in that conflict, but also for his own comrades.

A committee had been appointed on March 9, 1942 to develop a concept for the windows and to ensure their completion. Mr. Cummings took over when they finished their work. It was his job to translate their ideas into stained glass. The beautiful windows now installed in Gold Star Hall are the result of a year of work by the Cummings Studios in San Francisco. One fine characteristics of these windows is their true and clear coloring, which was accomplished by making the color a part of the glass in its manufacture.
No surface layer of colored enamel has been used on any of the thousands of pieces of glass that make up the designs. Mr. Cummings has designed and installed a number of other outstanding stained glass windows. Included among them are the chapel windows at the Presidio at San Francisco, the Captain Robert Dollar memorial window in the First Presbyterian Church at San Rafael, California, the windows for the Chapel at San Francisco University, and windows in the mausoleum at Woodlawn Memorial Park, San Francisco.

The Memorial Union at Iowa State was constructed as a memorial to the Iowa State men and women who served in World War I. Gold Star Hall was to be a shrine in memory of those who paid the supreme sacrifice and their names are carved in the stone walls. The architect’s plans provided for stained glass windows in this room, but it was not until 1943 that they were installed - 15 years after the Memorial Union opened its doors.

The windows were presented by Robert E. Pierson, president of the Memorial Union Student Board, in the following words:

“The first memorial ceremony held in Gold Star Hall was on Armistice Day, November 11, 1928. Each year thereafter on Armistice Day, a short memorial exercise has been held to honor the man and women of Iowa State who gave their lives in the service of their country in World War I. “ It had been the feeling of the Memorial Union Student Board for years that stained glass windows should be installed in Gold Star Hall. A committee was appointed on March 9, 1942, to determine what might be done to insure the installation of the stained glass windows. Through the work of this committee, the dream of 15 years now has been realized. May we not forget the inscription on these walls:”

For Thee they died--Master and Maker, God of Right-- The Soldier dead are at Thy gate, who kept the spears of honor bright, and Freedom’s house inviolate. -Drinkwater

The windows were dedicated to the memory of the patriotism of Iowa State College students and alumni by T.R. Agg, chairman of the Memorial Union Executive Committee, in the following words: “Lest we forget . . . “ “Yes, for us they died in the seething cauldron of a world upheaval. While their memory was fresh, this memorial was erected and their names engraved in the enduring stone that future generations might not forget that “the price of freedom is the blood of patriots.”

Countless thousands passed through this hall as the years rolled on and its real significance became no more than a vague tradition to a generation of students not yet born at the time of World War I. But each year on Memorial Day a wreath was placed on the middle star of the marble floor to show that someone was remembered. On each Armistice Day at eleven o’clock, taps were sounded in the hope that it might some-how carry into the unknown the message that we had not forgotten.

Once a year at the time of the Military Ball, a field piece was placed in this hall as a mute testimony that another generation of students was ready to “keep the spear of honor bright and Freedom’s house inviolate.”

Then came Pearl Harbor, Bataan, Midway, Wake Island, Guadalcanal, and Tunisia with the inevitable casualty lists. For Thee they died - Don Griswold, Edwin Novak, Charles Brown, Bob Burchard, John Hopple, and many, many others who so lately trod the halls of Iowa State.

Today Gold Star Hall takes on new meaning. Its cold white light is softened by the magic of fashioned glass. Its spirit is caught by the genius and artistry of a man who lived among us.

Over there the men and women of Iowa State College have shown that love, loyalty, patriotism, honor and fidelity can carry men to the heights of glory. Over here the rich cathedral light of Gold Star Hall shall caress their names with a touch as light as fairy’s wings and the whispered pledge--we will never forget, we will never forget.”

Harold Cummings adopted one of the homely
virtues for each window, and the symbolism used
to depict that virtue dominates the design. The
theme medallions are surrounded by a border and
crosspanels in which there are innumerable small
and intriguing figures. These fall into four groups.
One group consists of emblems characteristic of
several branches of the armed services; a second
consists of small figures suggestive of the branches
of training offered at the Iowa State College; a third
consists of panels in which the design is based on
some historic episode in the life of the college, or
some time-honored tradition; and a fourth consists
of symbols of religious significance.
Some of these designs are employed in all of
the windows, but not according to any fixed pattern.
They are introduced where needed to balance the
design and maintain the color harmony. A general
description of the windows will explain how the
artist has developed the general theme of each
window, but no description can do justice to the rich
coloring and delicacy of design.
In the semi-circle at the top (A in the diagram)
in the pairs of windows at the right and left of the
entrance and exit to Gold Star Hall are the Dove of
Peace and the American Eagle, surmounted, as in
every window, by a Gold Star. In the center group
of windows on each side of Gold Star Hall are a
front and side view of the Campanile on the Iowa
State College campus.
Twelve different military emblems are
introduced in each pair of windows (B), but are not
placed in the same location in any two pairs. For
instance, in the first pair of windows to the right
of the entrance, symbolizing Learning and Virility,
respectively, the window devoted to Learning
employs the Globe and Anchor of the Marines,
the Crossed Cannon of the Artillery, the Poppy of
Flanders, the Propeller and Wings of the Air Forces,
the Anchor and USN of the Navy, and the Crossed
Flags of the Signal Corps. In the other window of
this pair, dedicated to Virility, are the Crossed Sabres of the Cavalry, the Wand of Mercury with Twining
Snakes (the Caduceus of the Medical Corps), the
Crossed Rifles of the Infantry, the Bomb and Fuse
of the Ordnance Department, the Crossed Retorts of
the Chemical Corps, and the Castle of the Engineers’
In the ellipses at the sides of each window (C)
are numerous small designs suggesting the kind of
training conducted at Iowa State. For example, the
ellipses in the window entitled Learning show an
electric power transmission tower, the surveyor’s
level rod and target, and a tall Hat and Shamrock
reminiscent of St. Patrick’s Day, suggesting
engineering training, and an ear of corn, a plowman
at work, a hog, and farm machinery, suggesting an
agricultural phase of the college program.
Similarly, in the adjoining window, Virility, all
the fly-ball governor of mechanical engineering,
a bundle of oats representing agronomy, and a
teesquare, compass, and triangle emblematic of
technical traning. In this same window, also are
pictured the cow and dairy products of the dairy
farmer, the test tubes and beakers of the scientist,
and a young woman with a cherry pie, recalling the
traditional home economics sponsored cherry pies of
Veishea, the all-college celebration.
The small circles in the narrow panels in the
middle of each pair of windows (D) also are devoted
to the Iowa State. Included in these are the “Dinkey”
of the old Ames and College Railway that operated
between the college and the City of Ames; the Iowa
State College Shield, “Science and Practice”; Alumni
Hall, which originally served as a student, faculty
and alumni center, and a panel based on the legend
that the college’s first president, Dr. A.S. Welch,
tossed out potatoes and then planted a tree wherever
a potato fell.
On the following pages are detailed descriptions
of the twelve windows—Learning, Virility, Courage,
Patriotism, Justice, Faith, Determination, Love,
Obedience, Loyalty, Integrity and Tolerance.

Learning, the theme of window 1, is suggested by the medallion in the middle
panel (B in the diagram) in which students are seen obtaining books at a library.
In the upper medallion (A) a young man is sitting at a desk with map in hand
and globe nearby, studying military Theory and Tactics. The medallion in the
lower panel (C) entitled Officer’s Training, suggests a classroom scene with
an instructor and officer candidates. The panel at the base of this window (D)
commemorates the signing by Governor Ralph P. Lowe of Iowa of the Enabling
Act, March 22, 1859, authorizing the establishment of the Iowa State College,
then known as the Iowa Agricultural College.
In the square (E) is a parchment scroll, the Pentateuch, or Torah, or laws of
the ancient Jews, the first five books of the Old Testament. The initial letters I H
C, representing the first three letters of the word “Jesus” in Greek, appear in the
square (F). Taken in its entirety, this window suggests that learning includes the
avocational, the military, and the religious, if youth is to be equipped for useful
citizenship in the world of today.

Virility is the virtue to which window 2 is dedicated. Here again the
contribution of college life dominates the design, the middle panel (B) showing
football players against a background of a stadium. The contribution of military
training is suggested in the upper panel (A) which is entitled Port Arms, and in
the lower panel (C) by the cavalryman responding to the command Forward.
Another historical theme is the basis for the panel at the bottom of this
window (D), in which a stage coach and brick farm house are shown. The Farm
House, now a house museum on campus, was the original house on the first farm
purchased when the college was established and had been a stage coach stop in
the early days.
The square (E) represents Jacob and his sons, suggested by a sun and moon
with twelve stars surrounding them to represent the tribes of Israel. The Greek
letters Chi and Rho appear as a monogram in the square (F). This often is
referred to as a Christogram and has been used since ancient times to symbolize
Virility, then, according to the artist’s conception, is engendered by vigorous
physical activity which is not incompatible with moral and ethical codes based on
the religion of the Fathers and the teachings of Christ.

Courage, the theme of window 3, is exemplified as a physical attribute,
illustrated in the middle panel (B) by students in a boxing match; by the Man
Overboard panel (A), and by panel(C)which shows a Red Cross nurse ministering
to a wounded soldier on the battlefield and Fearing Nothing.
The historical panel at the base of this window (D) memorializes the laying
out of the campus in 1869. Two men are shown with surveying instruments.
One is engaged in planting a tree. This work in planning the layout of the
campus was done under the supervision of A.S. Welch, the first president of the
college, who remained in that office until 1885.
In the square(E)is the Shield of David which is the figure of a star made
by combining oppositely placed triangles. In the opposite corner (F) is the
eightpointed star, typical of baptism or regeneration, the number eight being
symbolic of rebirth. Courage is an attribute of the body and the spirit and its
exercise regenerates the faith and devotion of mankind.

Patriotism is the motif of window 4. The medallion (B) shows a young man
in the act of purchasing war bonds, the poster in the background carrying the old
1917-18 slogan “Buy Liberty Bonds.” Medallion (A) memorializes Nathan Hale,
whose very name connotes patriotism to those familiar with our early history.
Old Glory, the symbol of everything patriots love, is the title of panel (C), in
which appears the figure of a soldier with his rifle in one hand, the “Stars and
Stripes” in the other.
As in the other windows, the base (D) depicts a college scene with I.P.
Roberts, farm superintendent in the early days of the college, walking and talking
with students in the fields.
The seven-branched candlestick, the Menorah of the Old Testament, appears
in the corner (E), while in the other corner (F) are the Greek letters, Alpha and
Omega with a crown above, from the New Testament, symbolizing Christ as the
beginning and the end.
Patriotism stems from love of the flag, support of the government, and
emulation of the great men of our history, always remembering that all virtues
rest on reverence and appreciation of the holy men of the churches.

Justice is exemplified in window 5. Medallion (B) portrays a livestock judge
holding a scroll of honorary award for prizewinning cattle while their attendants
await announcement of the decision. In panel A the artist has indicated a soldier
about to break home ties to go forth to fight for the cause of justice. It is entitled
Hail Democracy. Court Martial, the method by which justice is administered
in the Army, is the subject of medallion (C), which depicts an officer holding
summary court for two soldiers.
The historical panel (D) in this window shows Morrill Hall, the old college
chapel and library constructed in 1892. In the square (E) are the tablets of stone,
emblematic of the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament. The Cross and
Crown (F), from the New Testament, symbolize the reward of the faithful in the
hereafter. Those who administer civil justice in the courts of the land on the basis
of statute and common law, if worthy of their robes, must recognize that true
justice has its roots in the Higher Law.
Faith is the virtue emphasized in window 6, and the design is dominated by
medallion (B), the laying of a cornerstone symbolizing the construction of the
first building on the campus, faith in the future of the state, and the wisdom of
providing educational opportunities for generations unborn. The upper panel (A)
is entitled Valley Forge, and depicts the figure of General Washington kneeling in
prayer on a snowy battlefield. In God We Trust is the title of the lower panel (C).
This symbolizes a field service by a chaplain and soldiers.
Early research in home economics is depicted at the base of the window (D).
The iconography based on the Old Testament, which appears in this window,
includes the flame, in the square E, representing the pillar of fire which guided
the children of Israel in their flight from Egypt, and in (F), the Fleur
(flower of the lily), which symbolizes the purity of the Blessed
Virgin, as well as
the Holy Trinity.
Like a pillar of fire, faith in God and confidence in the ultimate triumph of
right and virtue guides men along the road of conflict and in the paths of peace
and rectitude.

Determination is the theme for window 7, and medallion (B) depicts a student
remaining at his studies, while a group of boys in bright colored sweaters
attempts to lure him away from his books. It’s My Duty, in medallion (A), shows
marching soldiers and a young man determined to perform his military duty in
spite of his mother’s pleadings. Over There is again a war scene, portraying
soldiers landing on foreign shores (C).
Early military companies of men and women are shown in panel (D). This
commemorates Captain Lincoln’s trip with a company of students to the World’s
Columbian Exposition in Chicago, in 1893, where they participated in a military
parade. These women were the forerunners of the WAVES, WACS, and similar
women’s army and navy units of World War II. In the square to the left (E) is
the Pentateuch of the Old Testament, while to the right (F), symbolic of the New
Testament, are the letters I H C. The spirit of determination which grows out
of obedience to the laws of God, is equally indispensable to the attainment of
success both in the classroom and on the battlefield.
Love is the basis of the design of window 8. Love of learning is the theme
of medallion (B) with students bestowing a token of appreciation on a friendly
instructor. Medallion (A) shows a soldier carrying a wounded comrade from the
battlefield, thus Saving a Friend; and in medallion (C) a soldier ministers to a
wounded enemy lying on the battlefield and perhaps thereby Saving a Foe.
The historic Iowa State-Northwestern football game in 1895, depicted in
panel (D), resulted in a victory for the Iowa State team. A Chicago sports writer
in reporting the game said in effect that Northwestern had been defeated by a
“cyclone from out of the West,” and from that time on Iowa State varsity teams
have been referred to as the “Cyclones” in sports literature.
The square (E), representing the Old Testament, symbolizes Jacob and his
sons, while in (F) are the Greek letters Chi and Rho, of the New Testament.
Ignorance will be overcome with understanding, and evil with good, through the
love of truth and through the love of our fellow men. Love never faileth.

Constancy and dependability are portrayed in window 9. Obedience is the
theme in medallion (B) which shows a master in cap and gown expounding the
truth to two students, seated on either side of him. Over The Top, the rallying
cry of World War I, is the basis of medallion A, which shows an officer giving
the command to advance in battle to a group of soldiers. I Will Stay at my post is
the spirit of the solder standing guard in a sentry box while the storm rages about
him, suggested in medallion (C).
Excursions to the college have been encouraged from the earliest days of
college history. Panel (D) suggests people arriving on the campus in cars drawn
by the old “Dinkey,” and President William A. Beardshear addressing a crowd
of farmers, mechanics and engineers. Symbolic of the Old Testament is the
Shield of David (E). The 8-pointed star, the Regeneration, a symbol of the New
Testament, is shown in square F. President Beardshear emphasized at every
opportunity the interdependence of the homely human virtues and the teachings
of the great souls of the Bible.
Loyalty to one’s alma mater, and to one’s country are pictured in window 10,
typifying the virtue of loyalty in all relationships of life. Loyalty to the college
is suggested in medallion (B) by the figures of two cheer leaders—students of
Iowa State—pictured against the background of the Campanile. Loyalty to the
flag is suggested by a soldier saluting and a civilian with head uncovered before
the American flag, panel (A). One can imagine their reciting to themselves, I
Pledge Allegiance. The figure of a soldier turning his back to a disloyal alien
who beckons to him is the picture in medallion (C), signifying that he will follow
No Other Flag.
The historical panel (D) in this window carries scenes from college extension
work which shows the “more corn on fewer acres” demonstration train of Perry
G. Holden in his pioneer extension efforts, and extension workers conferring with
farmers in the field.
Again the artist has employed the Menorah in (E), and in (F) the Greek
letters Alpha and Omega with a crown above. It is because of loyalty to God
and country that more than six thousand Iowa State College men and women
served in World War I and many more in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and

Integrity is the theme of window 11. The central medallion (B) shows a
graduation ceremony with a student receiving his diploma, and the President
of the College reciting the customary “in recognition of your scholarship, your
integrity and your high character . . .” Enlisting, medallion(A), shows a young
man entering the armed services, the beginning of his military career. Honorable
Discharge, medallion (C), portrays a young soldier saluting as he receives
honorable discharge, ending his military career and typifying fidelity to his
obligation as a citizen.
Red Cross nurses administering aid to a wounded soldier being carried from
the battlefield, panel (D), memorialize the special war service of the one nurse
whose name appears in Gold Star Hall among the casualties of the first
War. The Ten Commandments of the Old Testament are shown in the square (E)
while (F) shows the Cross and Crown of the New Testament. This window, like
all of the others, emphasizes the interdependence of the homely virtues and the
things of the spirit. Men remain true to their highest ideals because of the spirit
of the Ten Commandments and a belief in the reward of the faithful.
Tolerance is the virtue upon which window 12 is based. Medallion (B),
showing a tennis match between a young man and a young woman, emphasizes
the coeducational atmosphere of the college. The soapbox orator holding forth to
a small group (A) exemplifies the ideal of Free Speech. Peace With Brotherhood,
panel (C), is suggested by two soldiers of the American Civil War in amicable
reminiscence, one in the blue uniform of the Union and the other in the grey of
the Confederacy.
Dedicated to war service of the college, panel (D) commemorates the
Rainbow Division (168th), comprised of many Iowa State men who went over
the top shouting, “Fight, Ames, Fight,” the rallying cry at many athletic contests
in the early days. As in window 6, there appears the Flame, the pillar of light (E),
and in the square (F), the Fleur-de-lys (flower of the lily), which symbolizes the
purity of the Blessed Virgin as well as the Holy Trinity.
Tolerance, like faith, is an attribute of the spirit and the heart that can
withstand the stress of world events only when men and women follow the
Guiding Light.