Willemina Elizabeth A. Muller Ogterop (September 14, 1881 – September 28, 1974) was a noted artist of stained glass windows. She was the first woman west of the Mississippi to design stained glass windows, designing almost 500 windows in 80 locations.

Ogterop was born in 1881 in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Her grandchildren have her 'sketch book' of water color, chalk and pen and ink drawings, made when she was only 11 years old. She completed her art and teacher-training studies in Amsterdam in the Spring of 1903 and set off at the age of 21 to join her brother in South Africa, where she met her future husband Cornelis "Kees" Ogterop (February 2, 1873 – March 11, 1944). They traveled through India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) before living in Indonesia from 1905 to 1907. They married in April, 1907 in Indonesia, and they returned to Holland the following year. They had four children, enduring the hardships of WWI:

  • Maximiliana C. Ogterop (Connelly) (April 16, 1908 – August 16, 2002) - she was given the name Bertha which appears in some records, but disliked the name and changed it
  • Eveline Ogterop (Krimgold) (May 29, 1909 – May 19, 1998)
  • Albert F. Ogterop (later changed to van Ogtrop) (May 1, 1913 – May 30, 2001) - his name appears as Albertin or Albertus in some records
  • Frederik "Fritz" C. Ogterop (February 5, 1917 – January 20, 1938)

The Ogterops immigrated to the United States in 1918, arriving aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam in New York on October 22, 1918. The entire family contracted influenza in New York, but it nearly killed baby Fritz. The family eventually settled in Santa Cruz, where Cornelis was a poultry farmer. In 1927, they moved to Arch Street in Berkeley. By 1930, they had moved to McGee Avenue in Berkeley, not far from Oakland.

Ogterop was hired by Western Art Glass Studio in San Francisco in 1928 and soon became its principal designer. She turned the studio's focus to fine stained glass for churches, and owner Harold Cummings changed the name to Cummings Stained Glass Studio, where Ogterop worked until her retirement in 1953. She was the first woman to join the local Glaziers and Glassworkers Union of San Francisco. Most of her windows were in 40 cities and towns in California, including Oakland and San Francisco. Towards the end of this time, she also designed some windows for the George Merrill Studio in Los Angeles. 1

Her work is primarily in Christian churches in California, but some pieces were also done for synagogues, mausoleums, universities, and private homes. "Given her European roots, Grandma's preferred style for the stained glass windows she designed was that of the 12th century Gothic—akin to the incomparable windows in the cathedral of Chartres outside Paris. Only the best quality, most richly-colored glass from Europe was used in the Cummings  Studio windows. The expert fusion of pigment into the glass with special kilns, the use of thick leading to join the glass pieces, as well as the sturdy, reinforced construction of the panels make Cummings Studio windows extremely strong." 2

Ogterop was a multiculturalist, and although most of her stained glass designs were for Christian churches, she was a Buddhist. She also created more than 200 works in other media, including paintings, ink, pencil and chalk drawings and woodcarvings. Much of what is known about Ogterop's works was compiled in a manuscript, The Stained Glass Art of Willemina Ogterop, written by her daughter Eveline Ogterop Krimgold, sourced directly from Ogterop's meticulous records.

Works in Oakland

"Martha" at FCC, 1944
photo CC-A from Our Oakland
"Jude" at FCC, 1944
photo CC-A from Our Oakland
"Simon" at FCC, 1944
photo CC-A from Our Oakland

Other Notable Works

  • stained glass windows at the Main Post Chapel at the Presidio in San Francisco
  • woodcarving "Satyagraha" in the National Gandhi Museum in New Delhi, India
  • stained glass plaque depicting a poem in Sanskrit by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, in the Tagore Museum at Visva Bharati University, India

Links and References

  1. Willemina Ogterop page at First Congregation Church
  2. Biography of Willemina Ogterop by Nadya Williams, granddaughter