The Stained-Glass Windows at St. Margaret’s
St. Margaret’s is fortunate to have beautiful stained-glass windows, most notably three designed and executed by the Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios. Enjoy this virtual tour of our windows, and come by in person to experience their beauty .
The first windows to be completed were the monumental ones in one the south, west, and east ends, and the baptistery (now chapel) window. All were designed in the art glass style popular at the beginning of the 20th century. Louis Comfort Tiffany was the progenitor and pre-eminent practitioner of the style, using the favrile glass he favored and often experimented with.
The south window, over the High Altar, depicts the road to Emmaus. The story is told in Luke 24:18-35. In the image, Cleopas and an unnamed companion encounter the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus. “Abide with us,” they ask the unrecognized stranger, “for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” An unusual aspect of this window is found in the face of Christ. Without back lighting from the sun, the features of the face fade and are unrecognizable, but with the light of day, the features appear, making the identity of the “stranger” apparent. The window was designed by Tiffany Studios, and given in 1909 by an anonymous donor, subsequently identified as Clarence F. Norment, Sr. Instead of the usual dedicatory inscription at the bottom of the window, the simple words “Abide with us” are used. “Road to Emmaus” was a popular choice for churches – similar windows, based on the same design, were installed by Tiffany in St. George’s Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1912; St. Paul’s Church, Milwaukee, in 1915; and St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Buffalo, New York, among others.
Located in the West Transept of the church, the “Sower” window, also designed by Tiffany Studios, is one of the most beloved at St. Margaret’s. It represents the parable of the sower of seeds from the thirteenth chapter of Matthew:
From Matthew 13:4-9 (NRSV):
“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen”
From Matthew 13:18-23 (NRSV):
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this the one who hears the word, but the cares for the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Tiffany Studios employed “confetti glass”, layering flecks of broken glass in the foliage to create a greater illusion of depth. The window was given in 1914 in memory of Professor Beverly Randolph Mason, principal of the then-nearby Gunston Hall School and a vestry member at St. Margaret’s, by the school’s faculty and students. The same design was used for a Tiffany window at First Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Old Stone Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and for a mosaic in glass, commissioned for Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut.
Installed between 1920 and 1924, the east transept window was until recently mistaken as solely a scene from the Sermon on the Mount. But thanks to the scholarly work of parish art historian Jonathan Walz, it has been correctly linked to Jesus’ admonition to the disciples to “Let the children alone, do not stop them from coming to me: the Realm of heaven belongs to such as these.” from Matthew 19, and now appears to be based on a confluence of the two events. It was designed by the Tiffany Studios and given to the parish by a bequest of Alexander Thomas Hensey (1862-1920), sometime vestryman and Senior Warden of St Margaret’s Parish.
Located in the Chapel of St. Margaret’s, the Baptistery window depicts the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by his cousin, John. “And when Jesus had been baptised, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.'” Matthew 3:16-17. Although very like the Tiffany windows that occupy the other monumental spaces in the church, this window was designed by Richard N. Spiers & Son of New York. It was given to the parish by Mary Herbert Wastin Roberts in memory of her mother, Mary Louise Roberts (1890-1915).
East Wall Windows
Stained glass windows line the low wall of the church’s east side. Early photographs indicate that these windows were originally paned with clear glass and had shutters on the outside of the building, lending a rural character to the façade. Windows depicting the virtues of faith, hope, and charity were installed in the first part of the 20th century, and replaced with the current windows in the 1960s and 1970s, all designed by Willet Studios of Philadelphia.
Located at one end of the east wall of the sanctuary, a set of three windows depicts a passage from Matthew 19, in which Christ admonishes his disciples to let the little children approach him. Puppies and kittens approach Christ as well, in this rendering. It was dedicated to the memory of the Kelton sisters and their mother: Josephine Parmley Kelton (1852 – 1950), Josephine Campbell Kelton (1870-1926), Mary Adelaide Kelton (1875-1963), and Anna Kelton Wiley (1877-1964).
Also on the East wall of the church, a single window celebrates five women of faith. In the center, Mary Magdalene kneels before Christ. They are surrounded by St. Hilda, abbess of Whitby; Catherine of Seina; Clara Barton; and Martha of Bethany, sister of Mary and Lazarus. The window was given in memory of Elisabeth Houghton (1909-1974), the first female vestry warden of St. Margaret’s.
In the middle panel of the East wall of the sanctuary, the Bishops’ window depicts St. Peter kneeling before Jesus who is giving him a shepherd’s crook, symbolic of Christ’s command to “feed my sheep.” Surrounding the two are four bishops of the Diocese of Washington: Henry Satterlee, Alfred Harding, James Freeman, and Angus Dun. In giving permission for the inclusion of Bishop Dun’s image in the window, his widow wrote that her husband “would gladly be included as a lesser figure if you picture him in his favorite posture, in confirmation with one hand on a black head and one hand on a white, saying the same prayer for both equally. He considered his greatest achievement as a Diocesan [to be] his persuasion of the Cathedral chapter to open its three schools to black applicants well before the Supreme Court decision.”
Near the altar end of the East wall of the sanctuary, the Good Samaritan window depicts the story of the Samaritan helping the robber’s victim while priest and Levite pass by. Shown in the four corners are: St. Luke, the physician; a medieval Knight Hospitaller; William Wilberforce, politician and philanthropist who worked tirelessly for the abolition of slavery; and Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell (1865-1940), English physician and missionary to Labrador, and the only figure in St. Margaret’s windows who is wearing skis! Grenfell fitted out the first hospital ship to serve fishermen on the North Sea, built hospitals, established cooperative stores, and introduced the concept of child welfare. The choices clearly reflect the person in whose memory the window was given, Montgomery Blair, physician and vestry member of St. Margaret’s.
On the far right of the east wall of the sanctuary, St. Augustine of Canterbury’s window depicts the first Archbishop of Canterbury surrounded by significant figures in British Christianity: St. George, patron saint of England; St. Alban, the first English martyr; Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and the author of the first Book of Common Prayer; and St. Margaret of Scotland (upper righthand corner), patron of our parish.
East Transept, Altar and Narthex windows
Smaller windows dot St. Margaret’s, evidence of the ongoing decorative campaigns of the church throughout the 20th century.
Above the door leading to the Connecticut Ave. garden in the front of the church, the Young Christ window show Jesus as an adolescent, studying in the temple. It was given in the memory of Philip Agnew McNeale, who died in 1902, at the age of 16, while trying to save a friend from a fire. It was presented in 1916 by his mother, Mary Goodyear Smoot. The subject is Christ in the Temple, and was designed by the Gorham Company of New York after a detail of the 1858 painting by Heinrich Hofmann, which hung in Dresden, but was made popular through 19th century engravings. Similar windows were created by Gorham for St. John’s, Detroit, and other churches at the turn of the century.
Tucked into the north wall of the East Transept, the St. Francis window illustrates St. Francis’ sermon to the birds. In the lower center panel of the window the words, “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace” are painted. It was given in the memory of Grace Bryn by Emma L. Bandel, and was designed and executed by the studios of George L. Payne of Paterson, New Jersey.
The east side of the High Altar holds St. Michael the Archangel’s window. St. Michael is intimately connected to the parish member in whose memory the window is dedicated. St. Michael is fittingly invoked in memory of a naval aviator, Green Clay Goodloe (1914-1945), who lost his life while on a long-range reconnaissance mission in the vicinity of the Malaya Peninsula. In the Old Testament, St. Michael is represented as the helper of the chosen people of God. In Revelation 12:7-9, Michael leads an army of angels to defeat the dragon: “And there was a war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought his angels, and prevaileth not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
Michael has often been regarded as the helper of armies, and as a protector of individual Christians against evil, especially at the hour of death. His is shown here in armor with sword and shield, trampling the dragon underfoot. Lt. Commander (USN) Goodloe’s decorations are depicted in the window: the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross with two stars, and the Air Medal with three stars. Goodloe’s mother, Marian C. Goodloe, presented the window in memory of her son. It was designed and executed by the Willet Studios of Philadelphia.
Opposite St. Michael, on the west side of the High Altar, St. Paul’s window acknowledges the tradition that Paul suffered martyrdom by the sword in Rome. He holds the sword of his martyrdom in his right hand, and a book of his epistles cradled in his left. The window was likely designed by the Willet Studios of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was given in memory of Captain Edward John Dorn, USN (1854-1937), sometime Vestryman and Junior Warden of St. Margaret’s Parish.
St. Margaret’s most recent stained glass window is above the main entrance on Connecticut Avenue. It is dedicated to the memory of longtime rector Malcolm Marshall, who served from 1948 to 1978. The window was designed by Washington artist Brenda Belfield. It features a Celtic Cross, which combines Marlcolm Marshall’s own Welsh/Scottish ancestry and that of our patron saint, Margaret, Queen of Scotland. The rest of the window is best summed up by Marshall’s widow – “[It] represents our various spiritual journeys–paths leading into the church for renewal and strength and welcome to all those in need–and paths that go out into the world to share our faith and love and service.”