In an unusual concentration of artistry for a small New England town, the distinguished works of several of America ’s foremost ecclesiastical artisans have coincided in St. James Episcopal Church, Woodstock, Vermont.
The parish of St. James has been an integral and influential part of the Woodstock community since the summer of 1826, when it was organized by Dr. A.J. Galup, who gave the land on which the first church was built In time for the Christmas Eve service in 1827 and consecrated on September 28, 1828.
Dr. Galup and other parish founders, including Amos Warren, John A Pratt, Lyman Mower, Darius and Royal Pratt, and Abraham Stearns, acquired stone for the new church, but plans for it had to be abandoned when quicksand was found under the site. A simplified Gothic, frame building was substituted, whose crenellated tower held one of the four Paul Revere bells that grace Woodstock churches.
The present church was built in 1907, designed in English Gothic style by the renowned architects Cram, Goodhue, & Ferguson of Boston and New York, and constructed of stone drawn from Quechee - at a cost of less than $30,000 - and consecrated on March 13, 1908. Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942), born in New Hampshire, designed the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and several buildings at Princeton University In what came to be known as "collegiate" Gothic. He was also known as a social reformer, with a vision of a neo-medieval society. St. James is considered one of Cram's most distinguished smaller churches, with its ideal proportions and extraordinary sense of space.
Several outstanding fixtures from the old church were installed in the new edifice: the brass pulpit and lectern, the marble font, litany desk, and three of the stained glass windows. A new rood screen was given by Edward H. Williams, Jr., and the marble altar by the George R. and George K. Chapman families. William N. Campbell gave the forty-seven pews seating two hundred and thirty-five, and a new pipe organ was donated by S.B. Whitney, organist of the Church of the Advent in Boston. Two decorative wooden panels were sent as a gift from the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
St. James celebrated its centennial in 1926 by raising $13,000 for the addition of a spacious parish house, for which the stone was given by Orley A. Whitcomb.
These windows are unusually distinctive, aesthetically and historically, since they represent every major type of glass and artistic style for the past one hundred years with the exception of the ultra-modern German school.
The figure of St. James the Great is the focus of the magnificent alter triptych window with traceries, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, listed in the 1910 Tiffany book of windows. The 96" x 144" window is entirely Tiffany glass, in muted tones of greens and browns, except for the robing, which is Kokomo ruby, opalescent drapery glass.
The west triptych on the north wall is a superb example of the school of English Master Glass Painters. executed around 1935 by Heaton, Butler, & Baure, London, on hand blown antique glass. It was given in memory of Anthony Goldschmidt and his wife, Ellen Caroline Cheesborough.
The center triptych on the north wall, in memory of Abraham Stearns, reflects Victorian geometric designs in opalesecent glass and rolled cathedral glass, circa 1880-1910; the maker is not known.
The north and south wall diptychs at the east end were created by Connick Associates, Boston, in
1973. These medallions celebrate Vermont's bucolic qualities executed in rolled, handblown antique, and Hartley Wood English streaky glass. The cattle scene is in memory of Alan Mann; the horse, Hugh Coyle; stag and doe, Wardell St. John; and skier, Charles Kendall. These windows were among the last produced by the venerable Connick studio, which closed in 1986 after seventy-three years of artistry and close collaboration between Charles Connick and Ralph Cram.
The east triptych on the south wall, in memory of Julia Ann Stevens, is another example of the craftsmanship of Charles Connick, 1924, revealing the artist's experiments in light control using rolled glass and heavy stencil and matte work rather than opalescent glass. Whites, blues, and silver are stained with red accents.
The center triptych on the south wall is a late nineteenth-century American, heavy opalescent picture window, with much plaiting (double glass), predominately in purples and blues, from an unknown maker, a memorial to Cornelia Bailey Williams. This, probably the oldest window in the church, reflects the technique of painting with, rather than on, the glass.
An unsigned early American rolled glass window of the late 1800's, In ambers and browns, given in memory of the Rev. George Palmer Williams, occupies the west triptych of the south wall.
Two panels of sixteen cherubim, in whites, blues and reds with silver staining, high in the south wall of the choir, were probably executed by Connick Associates in the 1950's.
The late seventeenth-century German figure of St. John the Baptist over the font was also given by Mrs. Albright. The late eighteenth-century German statue of St. Benedict at the east end of the side aisle was the gift of the Emmons family, In memory of Marjorie Barlow.