Thursday, January 22, 2015

#51 Jewels of Light, The Windows of St. Luke's (100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida)

St. Luke Window
On Sunday (1/25) at 2:00 p.m., St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Marianna will offer its second "Jewels of Light" Tour. This year's event honors Father Norman Bray, whose passing on January 21, 2014, was felt by friends from all denominations.

The name "Jewels of Light" refers to the church's extraordinarily historic and beautiful stained-glass windows, which are #51 on our list of 100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida.

Special thanks are due to Mary Robbins for assisting with this history of the windows:

The story of the stained-glass windows dates back to the Civil War. Union troops burned St. Luke's Episcopal Church to the ground during the Battle of Marianna on September 27, 1864. In the hard times of Reconstruction, it took the parish fifteen years to raise enough money to replace its lost sanctuary.

Rare photo of 1879 church with original stained-glass windows.
By 1879, however, the replacement structure was nearing completion when Mr. Charles B. Benedict of St. John's Episcopal Church in Jacksonville offered to pay for stained-glass windows. His wife, Martha Alston Baker - called "Pattie" by her husband and friends - was a native of Marianna and the two had been married at the home of Dr. J.T. Holden in the city on August 15, 1876. She died less than three years later on January 31, 1879, and Mr. Benedict asked to donate the windows in her memory.

Rare photo of church after 1941 fire.
Courtesy of Mary Robbins
His incredible gift was accepted and the windows were prepared by the renowned artists of Payne-Spiers Studios in Patterson, New Jersey.  They graced the beautiful little church until another fire struck on March 2, 1941. The blame this time was electrical.

Once again war and hard times intervened in the replacement of the structure and it was not until Easter morning, April 6, 1947, that the present building was dedicated. World War II had slowed the work of rebuilding.

Inside St. Luke's with the windows glowing from sunlight.
To preserve the memory of the beautiful windows lost in the 1941 fire, the church contacted Payne-Spiers. The studio created the stunning windows seen today in the sanctuary, chancel and nave, along with two windows in the stairwell and two in the sacristy.  All were placed in 1946-1956.

Local artisans Ashley and Yoshiko Hill, assisted by noted artist Maria Therrien Johnson, designed and produced two windows for the Children's Chapel in 1997 and the glass transom and door windows on the north side of the church in 2002.

Philips Memorial Window
The windows placed in the 1940s and 1950s are similar to the ones donated by Mr. Benedict in 1879. The altar window is a Philips Memorial window that is but slightly changed from the original. Many of the sanctuary windows were donated by families and friends in memory of loved ones.

Of special note is the Friendship Window high in the west wall of the church. It was placed to the Glory of God and as a show of appreciation for the many friends that came to the aid of the parish after the heartbreaking fire in 1941.

Section of the St. Peter Window.
Other windows include the Nativity Window, dedicated in memory of Mr. John Hardin Carter; the Presentation Window, placed in memory of Francis Asbury Robinson and his wife, Lorena A. Bush; the Ecce Agnus Dei (Behold the Lamb of God) Window, placed in appreciation of the organists of the church; the Sermon on the Mount Kilpatrick Memorial Window; the St. Luke Window, dedicated to the Glory of God and in memory of Dr. N.Albert Baltzell; the St. John Window, in memory of John and Floie Milton; the St. Peter Window, in memory of Sen. William Hall Milton; the St. Philip Window, in memory of Phillip D. Mathews; the St. Bartholomew Window, for the Baker family, and the St. Andrew Window, in memory of Rev. J. William Foster and his wife, Elizabeth.

The "Jewels of Light" Tour will be this Sunday, January 25, at 2 p.m.

To learn more about St. Luke's Episcopal Church, please visit

To see the full list of 100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida, as it is unveiled, please visit

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