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Saga of the "Bean Windows"

152, 01 Sep 2010

Saga of the "Bean Windows"
By Dave Mikkelson

Following his death in 1988, the family of MG Emmett J. BEAN donated a specially designed stained glass window for the inner foyer of Soldiers Memorial Chapel, across 56th street from the MG Emmett J. Bean Finance Center at Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN. A pair of matching side windows were also donated in memory of Mrs. Jeanette BEAN. As the base closure process began at the Fort, those windows were removed in 1995, crated and shipped to the 'new' Finance Corps Museum at Fort Jackson, SC. Several other items from the chapel were 'salvaged' and shipped to Fort Knox; for example, collection plates and other altar items, choir robes, etc.

In 1996, a 'remnant' of the chapel congregation determined to attempt to retain a 'church/chapel' at that location, although the chapel properties were being transferred to the Lawrence Township School District. COL(R) Sam YOUNG was then the Chapel Parish Council President and was actively supporting a transition to a 'civilian' congregation.  Sam also then began a long quest to have the "Bean Windows" returned to the chapel. The 'new' congregation was soon formally chartered by the State of Indiana as "Christians United Church at Soldiers' Memorial Chapel." The Lawrence School District agreed to rent the sanctuary, office, and fellowship room space to the new church, and continues to do so. The Army then agreed to leave the 'fixed' furnishings of the Chapel; the steeple, pews, altar/pulpit, baptistery, organ and sound system, and items not yet moved to Fort Knox.

After 15 years of persistence by Sam, assisted by Mrs. Kay MCKINNEY, the Pastor's wife, in 2009 the current Museum Curator, Henry HOWE, was able to obtain authority from Army Museum officials to release the windows to be returned to the chapel at the now inactive Fort Harrison. The windows had never been removed from the original shipping crates and were determined not to be of particular historical value to the museum system. COL(R) Dave and Bonnie MIKKELSON volunteered to go to Fort Jackson to bring them back in their Chrysler (Stow 'n Go) van. The crates fit snugly in the back of the van for the trip home in April.  They were reinstalled in the chapel about a week later in time for Mothers' Day services. On June 14, Flag Day and the Army's Birthday, the windows were rededicated in a special ceremony at the chapel including messages given by Dave and Bonnie MIKKELSON and Sam YOUNG.

The Story in Pictures:

1. Foyer of the chapel with green plastic in place of the previously
removed windows. L-R: Pastor Jim McKINNEY, Kay McKINNEY, Bob WILLIAMS of Christians United Church.

2. Foyer of the chapel with the windows reinstalled and Bonnie in doorway.

3. Window in memory of Gen BEAN.

4. COL(R) Sam and Ella YOUNG.

5. COL(R) Dave and Bonnie MIKKELSON

6. Christians United Church at Soldiers' Memorial Chapel with the MG
Emmett J Bean Center in the background.

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