The massive 1883 renovation of St. John’s afforded ample opportunity for donations to enhance the enlarged worship space. In the November 1882 issue of the St. John’s Church Record, a call went out for potential memorials “in glass, or wood, or stone.” One urgent need at the time was for windows, and the J. R. Lamb firm of New York was chosen to provide the new glazing.
Colored glass windows, commonly referred to as “stained glass,” have been used for centuries to illuminate churches, chapels, and cathedrals. In the Middle Ages, the figures depicted in glowing windows – and also in carving and statuary – were a means of educating worshipers who commonly could not read. It is said that the term “stained” glass comes from the practice of layering a coat of metallic oxide onto pieces of glass of differing hues. These were then heated till the oxides fused with the glass and produced an array of vibrant and lasting colors. Later on, other types of tinting processes were used, but today, all are commonly referred to as “stained” glass.
In February of 1883, J. R. Lamb removed, cleaned, and reinstalled the original chancel window into its new location in the southwest transept, an effort endowed by W. Latimer Small. This window, with its richly colored figure of St. John the Evangelist, became the centerpiece of three pointed windows. In March, the Church Record states that “another memorial window will soon be placed…. It will occupy the side lancet East of the St.John window, on the other side of which the figure of Dorcas (Charity) will be placed.” This east side window is the figure of Isaiah, given in memory of Henry D. Schmidt. The opposite window was provided as a memorial to Catherine E. Schall. The woman in this window is sometimes erroneously identified as St. Mary. But is it in fact Dorcas, as mentioned in the early newsletter? Dorcas, also known as Tabitha, is described in the Acts of the Apostles 9:36-43 as a believer from Joppa who was raised from the dead by St. Peter. She was known for acts of charity, especially for sewing clothing for the poor.
To the right of the chancel, in the Baptistry of St. John the Evangelist, are the northwest transept windows.
Click on the charts to see an enlarged versions.