Ten years after the devastating 1906 earthquake, San Francisco hosted the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition celebrating the newly rebuilt city. Constructing a “city within a city” by filling in part of the bay to create the Marina District, the exposition lasted from February to December 1915. The organizers constructed buildings covered in jewels and highlighted the latest inventions, including the first transcontinental telephone call. Daredevil pilots flew the skies and the occasion even included a visit by the Liberty Bell, sent across the country to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal. Today, the Palace of Fine Arts stands as a reminder of the magnificent event.
In the midst of a city in celebration, a church only blocks from the exposition expanded their Mass hours to accommodate the international crowds. St. Vincent de Paul, originally established by Archbishop Patrick Riordan in 1902 with pastor Father Martin Ryan, had recently completed its church structure at the corner of Green and Steiner Streets, in what is known as “Cow Hollow.” Dedicated Oct. 26, 1913, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church served a diverse community, which at times over the years included the military members stationed at the Presidio.
In 1944, pastor Father James Long wrote to the Archdiocesan Building Commission to request approval for new stained-glass windows for the church. “The present amber glass allows a flood of light to penetrate the building making it garish at times,” said Father Long. “There is practically no color in the building.” Today, Father Long’s vision for the windows is on display — full of color, illuminating events in the Old and New Testaments and honoring the patron saint of the church.
The artist chosen for the project was Carl Huneke of Century Stained Glass Studio in San Francisco. Huneke, a native of Germany, had recently worked with Charles Connick Studios of Boston on installing the windows at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and designed the windows of St. Mary’s Church (now Cathedral of the Annunciation) in Stockton. According to research conducted by Father John Ring for his history of the parish, Huneke told a reporter in 1953 that it was his love of color that drew him to stained glass, “No other craft deals in light as brilliant or as elemental. … It may seem hard and laborious work to you, but if you love it, as I do, the harder the task is, the better you like it.”
Full story at Archdiocese of San Francisco.