The windows of St. Matthew’s represent one hundred years of stained glass history. They are large and notably very close to the congregation.
The first addition of stained glass to St. Matthew’s was the set of three lancet windows, the Altar Windows, in 1868, the “gift of a lady of the parish.” These were set into to the newly built recessed chancel. To the right of the altar, is the Good Shepherd Window (1872), portiaying Jesus with an unusual hat crowned with thorns. The Ladies Sewing Society sold their needlework in order to purchase the window as a memorial for the Rev. Moses Ashley Curtis, who was also a renowned botanist and composer of church music. Both these windows were designed by Henry Sharp of New York, one of the emerging early American stained glass artists of the 1850s. His work appears in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent stained glass collections.
The Madonna and Child Window (1895) was a memorial to Paul Cameron, a 3-year old child of the Cameron family, designed by Charles Booth. Many years later the Magi Window (installed 1975), also by Charles Booth, was a gift to St. Matthew’s by descendants of the Cameron family. It was originally bought in 1884 for Salem Chapel, the family’s chapel on the Cameron plantation, Fairntosh, in what is now Durham County.
The Saint Matthew Window, installed in 1935, was also a Webb family memorial and is the finest window in the church. It was the work of Lawrence Saint, the director of the stained glass window department of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Saint employed medieval glass techniques when constructing the window. Note the detail of the words of the Beatitudes around the edge of the window.
The most widely recognized window is the Angel of Praise Window, installed in 1899. It was listed as the “Ruffin Memorial Window” in a 1910 publication of Tiffany Glass. Joseph Lauber designed the Angel in 1894, and most likely Agnes Northrop designed the cluster of Iris at the Angel’s feet. It is signed Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company and dated 1896.
The final window, Keep My Commandments, was the signed work of Ernest Lakeman, installed in 1942 and, like the Tiffany window, was a Ruffin family memorial. Lakeman’s most famous work was his window in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, memorializing John Jacob Astor’s death on the Titanic in 1912.