Through architecture and construction, it is easy to approach a building as a project, but we may forget to think about the building not as just a structure but as a place with a history and a story to share. Occasionally we come across an interesting detail, a hidden gem that will encourage us to dive down the research rabbit hole, much like this unique stained glass window at Saint James’ Church has done for me.Originally founded in 1810, it was thought that George Washington was featured in the church’s stained glass windows as a not-so-distant memory of the American Revolution. However, the original church was built at a different location, and any art glass windows did not appear to be moved to the new structure constructed in 1869, designed by James Renwick. In fact, the church would undergo various significant alterations before the window in question was actually installed, including a redesign by Robert H. Robertson in 1884 and again by Ralph Adams Cram in 1924.
Further inspection of the window reveals an inscription at the bottom which reads “In loving memory of Edith Henderson Sutro 1878 – 1928”
As a member of both the Daughters of the Revolution and Colonial Dames of America, it seems only fitting that the window dedicated to the church upon her death reflect an image of George Washington. Edith died of pneumonia on November 3, 1928 and was survived by her husband Victor Sutro, and son Victor Henderson Sutro who commissioned the window in her memory.
“The window completes the series of 21 chancel and nave clerestory windows, which were designed and executed by Henry Wynd Young, Inc. The 8 nave clerestory windows contain in all 24 figures representing great religious leaders in the history of the Christian church since apostolic days. George Washington, the central figure in the new window, was a staunch churchman and vestryman both at the Pohick church, Virginian and at Christ Church, Alexandria.” New York Herald Tribune, 15 April 1929
Views of a stained-glass window at Saint James’ Church brought to you by Emily Barr.