St. Paul’s Church, a congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, is beautified and graced by works of many celebrated artists. The following brief guide is an introduction to some of the items of special interest.
The church was organized in 1834. In 1849, a wooden church was built to designs of Richard Upjohn. The present church was built of Southern Berkshire limestone in 1883-1884. This Norman style building was designed by Charles F. McKim, who donated his services. This was McKim’s first church. He went on to design the Boston Public Library, the Morgan Library, New York’s Pennsylvania Railroad Station, and the Avery Library at Columbia University. Construction of the building in 1883 was a gift by Charles Butler as a memorial to his wife, Susan Ridley Sedgwick Butler. The drawing reproduced above is by parishioner Norman Rockwell.
Touring the Church
The Tower Room
Historic photographs document the earlier Upjohn church building, its expansion and the transition to the current McKim structure.
The carved wooden door to the organ loft is the work of Tilo Kaufman, master craftsman at Austen Riggs. The 1850’s church clock, with its original wooden tower, was a gift to St. Paul’s by the English novelist G.P.R. James. McKim designed his stone choir to accommodate the old clock faces.
The Tower above contains a large bell and the town’s central clock, also brought from the prior church.
Stained glass on the north wall (your left, facing the altar) includes:
- Burleson and Gryll (London): “Dorcas Feeding the Poor” (the window on the north wall)
- Francis D. Millet: depicts a Christian warrior as a knight in armor.
- Charles J. Connick: “The Good Samaritan.”
In the west wall are three windows of Fra Angelico angels with musical instruments from the original wooden church. Outside, intersecting stone arches in the west façade incorporate their gothic shape in the Norman style of the building. Over these windows are two new windows (1993) by local-glass artist David Guarducci.
Windows in the south wall include two in memory of William Ellery Sedgwick and Dudley Field. The latter may be Tiffany or his studio.
Local builder George Knowles carved the wooden angels at the bottom of the roof beams throughout the Nave and Crossing. Knowles also designed the unique three-part wooden arch joining nave, transept and tower, resolving a puzzle for McKim.
The Baptistry was designed by Stanford White and built of French limestone and marble. The walls and floor are luna chella, or fossiliferous marble, with tiny shells embedded in limestone. The central tablet is supported by sculptured angels in relief by Louis Saint Gaudens (brother of Augustus). The flanking windows are by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The white marble font, by Charles Lamb of New York, was in the prior wooden church.
The large high-relief panels of “The Singing Children,” on the wall under the organ gallery, are replicas of a frieze by Luca della Robbia ornamenting the Cantoria of the Duomo, Florence, c. 1435. The window to the right is from the prior church; its gothic shape has been altered to fit the Norman arch.
The organ was designed and built by Hilborne L. Roosevelt, op. 127, 1884. Originally containing 258 speaking pipes, it has been enlarged to 1600 speaking pipes, retaining the original tracker action and slider wind chests.
The central window over the Altar, depicting St. Paul preaching, and the window in the south wall representing the Annunciation were created by artist John LaFarge.
The Altar clerestory window shows a Pentecost dove. It was designed and made by local artist Fredrich Leuchs in 1988. The windows were restored and preserved in 2016, the project having been funded wholly or in part by the citizens of Stockbridge under the provisions of the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act.
The Southwest Porch
The winged figure “The Spirit of Life,” on the covered porch, was created in bronze by Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the famous Seated Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Please enjoy our grounds. Notable features include a Memorial Wall (see below) and fountain and the statue of St. Margaret of Scotland by Anna May