Josephson rejuvinates with stained glass creation

Published 4:59 pm Monday, October 24, 2011

Monica Josephson stands by a stained glass window she created for her Helena home. (Contributed)

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

Monica Josephson’s lovingly restored, 100-year-old home reflects her efforts of the past seven years.

The original 1,200 square feet have grown to 1,900, and it feels even larger due to Josephson’s functional expansion and tasteful accessorizing. An apartment addition for her mother, Ella Tripodi, opens from French doors off the dining room, allowing each togetherness or privacy.

A native of Westchester County, New York, whose Italian grandparents were immigrants, Josephson said, “I love this town. I was meant to be a Southerner.”

A plaque in her kitchen proclaims, ‘I wasn’t born in the South, but I got here as quick as I could.’

Josephson, a dynamo of energy who works for Blue Cross Blue Shield, has quite the creative side. She has been sewing since age 8 and is still the appointed family seamstress for draperies and alterations, etc. From basic craft classes, she developed a penchant for working in stained glass and has incorporated her creations throughout her décor, beginning with the arts and crafts panel in the front door.

Josephson has created the ultimate relaxation spot in her roomy bathroom, where an old-fashioned claw foot bathtub anchors the black and white theme that is topped off, like whipped cream on a sundae, with the large stained glass window where an egret stands amidst the cattails and water reeds in a flowing stream.

The hexagonal window in the same room has recently been fitted with a tulip-patterned stained glass pane. In the kitchen window leans a transom-shaped glass panel of a bowl of fruit that her son, Brett, sketched for her many years ago. That panel just happens to echo the black and white checkered motif of the remodeled kitchen, where the countertops and island/bar were tiled by Josephson to replace worn butcher-block laminate.

“Tiling the countertops was a breeze compared to working in stained glass,” she said. The back kitchen door has a latticed-work stained glass panel in which dimensional grapes, from glass pebbles and matching those in the fruit bowl, hang from intertwined vines.

Josephson is currently taking an intermediate-level lead stained glass class at Buck Creek Stained Glass to build on her previous experience.

The wide-planked front porch, once painted standard green, and kitchen — formerly all browns — are now crisped up with black and white accents and sunny yellow walls.

In the past year, the makeover extended into her yard, where she waged war on overgrown thickets of privet, kudzu, rusted chicken wire and an old chain-link fence. After extensive grading, a flagstone patio was added, and the new landscaping — with shades of reds and yellows — cheerily welcomes all.

Josephson learned to ride a motorcycle at age 57 and enjoys taking a break from her home and landscape projects to go cycling with friends through the back roads of the South.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by email at