Stained Glass Windows
Rye Presbyterian Church’s present building, its third since formal incorporation in 1795, is the work of Richard Upjohn and his son, Richard Mitchell Upjohn, part of a world-renowned nineteenth century architectural firm. The Upjohns became acquainted with Rye when they accepted a commission to design “The Pinnacles,” the residence of Mr. William Mathews. The Rev. Dr. Charles Baird, pastor of Rye Presbyterian Church from 1869-1887, was persuasive in the decision for a departure from the traditional New England meeting house style to a thirteenth-century neo-Gothic design with Victorian influence. The Upjohn firm selected Tiffany’s for the interior stenciled decoration of the church (later painted over!) begun in 1870. The Tiffany firm did not install any of their now-famous windows. However, the church has been the recipient of a fine collection of the best American and English stained glass given by old Rye families: Clark, Mathews, Parsons, Van Rensselear, Whittemore, and Corning.
The first windows
The original 1870 lancet windows on the main floor as well as on the clerestory level were identical, with diagonally placed panels etched with fleur-de-lis designs and bordered with rich blues and reds.
At the end of the south transept, two young children of Mary and John Parsons are memorialized in the “Good Shepherd” window; at the end of the north transept, Matilda Lamb Parsons (1809-1837) is remembered in the “Mary with Offering” window. At the west end of the nave, a geometrically-designed window memorializes Eliza Jane Lyon Lord (1792-1840). They were thought to have been executed and installed by the New York firm of Sharp & Colgate in 1872. Over the next seventy years the gifts of five previously mentioned Rye families, related by marriage, began replacing the original main floor lancet windows.
Aquila & Prisca
To the right of the center aisle (south wall) beginning nearest the steeple tower is a set of windows by Henry Lee Willet that memorialize William H. Mathews (1817-1881) and his wife Eleanor Graham Finney. These were installed in 1932 at the direction of their daughter, Isabelle Mathews Corning. She, in turn, was memorialized in another window from the Willet firm, “The Twenty-third Psalm,” seen in the present library. This window was given in 1933 by her second husband, Arthur W. Corning.
Paul & Timothy
The second set of windows on the south wall, Paul and Timothy, also was crafted by Henry Lee Willet, son of founder William Willet (1868-1921), and a personal friend of Arthur Wellesley Corning (1865-1936), whom the window commemorates. This window was given in 1938 by Corning’s second wife. Corning was a grandson of Ebenezer Clark (1768-1847) whose marble memorial can be seen to the right of the pulpit.
Presentation of the Infant Jesus in the Temple
This third set of windows was executed by the English firm of Heaton, Butler & Bayne, a firm noted for its windows in the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, England. It was given in memory of Arthur Wellesley Parsons (1809-1888) and his wife, Catherine Clark, a daughter of Ebenezer Clark. Miss Emma Parsons, Arthur’s sister, donated it in 1897. Catherine’s sister, Eliza Clark (1800-1888), is memorialized by the bronze wall tablet beside this window.
To the left of the center aisle (north side) beginning in the narthex is a set of windows dedicated in 1893 in memory of Margaret Field Campion (1825-1892), nurse to a handicapped daughter of W. H. Parsons. The maker of this Tiffany-styled window has not been identified.
Phillip & Dorcas
The next set of windows memorializes Edward P. Whittemore (1836-1899) and his wife, Caroline Loder. Whittemore was a grandson of Ebenezer Clark and son of the Rev. Williams Howe Whittemore (1800-1885) whose memorial tablet can be seen on the same wall. Charles J. Connick executed this window in 1928. It depicts two deacons, Phillip and Dorcus.
Zacharias & Elizabeth
The third set of windows depicts Zacharias and Elizabeth and was thought to be crafted by the English firm of Clayton & Bell, a distinguished firm responsible for the St. Cecilia window in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. It was given in 1914 in memory of Jasper Edward Corning (1827-1913) and his wife Matilda Parsons, granddaughter of Ebenezer Clark.
Archangels - Michael & Gabriel
The fourth set of windows was removed in 1956 and reinstalled in the chancel of Crawford Chapel. The firm of Heaton, Butler & Bayne designed these in 1911 to memorialize Miss Mary Parsons (1838-1909) the organist of Rye Presbyterian Church for twenty years.
The Risen Lord
To the left of the chancel, this east-facing window was given in 1924 by Mrs. Frank Washburn in memory of her husband (1860-1922). It’s maker is unknown.
The Great Chancel Window
The Great Chancel Window replaced an 1870 Sharp and Colgate triptych window given by William P. Van Rensselear in memory of five of his children who died in the influenza epidemics of the mid-nineteenth century. It depicted an angel at the tomb of the risen Christ speaking to the women.
The new window was given by three Rye families who marked the transition from old to new Rye more than half a century ago: the Taggarts, Moreheads, and McCulloughs. The Great Chancel Window was designed by Charles J. Connick in 1946, shortly before his death. The Connick firm also was responsible for the rose window in window in Crawford Chapel. The stained glass medallions in the side windows of the chapel and in the chapel cloister are the work of Rush Taggart who studied at the Connick Studios in Boston upon retirement from a distinguished legal career. The Connick firm has distinguished itself worldwide and is noted for the installation of stained glass windows in the Cadet Chapel at West Point given by each graduating class.