The stained glass windows at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Emmorton, believed to be the only complete set of windows in the United States designed by British architect William Butterfield, are being restored.
Work on the windows, which began last week and continued early this week at the church, is being done by J&R Lamb Studios of Midland Park, N.J.
"The St. Mary's Window Restoration Project has three goals: to preserve the windows for future generations, to celebrate the beauty of their story and to educate us about their history," according to information provided by St. Mary's and given to church members.
Each stained glass window is covered with a hard plastic to protect it. Over time, the plastic had yellowed and needs to be replaced.
Workers removed the old plastic and while it was off, the seals between the windows and the church structure were redone. New plastic was installed and small holes were cut in the plastic to allow to move in and out.
The windows were installed as construction on St. Mary's, which began in 1848, was in progress and stretched over a number of years. The founding congregation leader, Rev. Dr. William F. Brand, commissioned the windows, choosing William Butterfield of England, who, like Brand, was a follower of the Oxford Movement, to design and oversee installation of the windows, according to the history.
Butterfield chose the Gibbs Studio in London to craft the windows. As the first of the windows arrived in the United States from London, they were impounded in New York City until the duty was paid. Members of St. Mary's lobbied the federal government, which passed a law to allow all church art to enter the country as a fine art, making it duty-free.
Henry Frick, a native of Germany who had settled in the neighborhood near St. Mary's, installed the windows; he had been trained for such work while living in Germany.
Exact dates for much of the window installation project are not available because many of the church's records about construction of the church were lost in a fire that destroyed the church's first rectory.
According to a history of the church, the windows at St. Mary's tell a complete story that follows the "earthly existence of Christ through the experience of St. Mary," according to "the Windows of St. Mary's Church, the Crown Jewels for the Queen of Heaven."
The story begins over the altar, at the center of the center window in the east wall. Prominent in the panel is the head of the ox, the traditional symbol for the Gospel According to Luke, where the majority of the scenes in the collection can be found.
Titles of the windows, following the story around the church, are: The Annunciation, The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, The Presentation of Christ in the Temple (also called The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary), The Flight to Egypt, Christ in the Temple, The Wedding at Cana, Jesus Carries His Cross, The Crucifixion, The Body of Jesus is Removed from the Cross, The First Easter, Doubting Thomas, The Ascension and Michael the Archangel.