St. John the Evangelist Chapel, Boston, Massachusetts
The Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston has undergone a major renovation to the sanctuary. St. John the Evangelist Church, historic parish on Bowdoin Street for over 150 years was closed and the building sold. The proceeds from the sale of the property underwrote the expense of renovations to the cathedral. From the earliest planning the architect was charged with incorporating a meditation chapel to be named for St. John the Evangelist. This new addition will be a permanent reminder of the decades old traditions of St. John’s as the home of the monastic order, The Society of Saint John the Evangelist.
A stained glass window is the focal point of the chapel. The design committee received recommendations from Reverend Joe Robinson, Vicar of Christ Church, Cambridge, and encouraged the committee to view the work of our studio. Pearl River Glass Studio, in the selection process, was awarded the commission on the strength of its interpretation of various key elements of design. Included in this interpretation was the façade of the original St. John the Evangelist Church and the iconic nautilus form in the pediment of St Paul’s. The cobalt blue color, in the tradition of the Charles Connick Studios, is emblematic of the stained glass in the original St. John the Evangelist Church in the window style of Marc Chagall.
The design for the window was revised in response to the feedback from the church committee. Key elements of the design include a depiction of the silver chalice used to celebrate Holy Eucharist. The chalice, as a symbol of the sacramental nature of the Episcopal Church, is traditionally placed in the center of the window. The nautilus form is incorporated in order to create an enigmatic leadwork pattern. Charged early on with creating a window to enhance the space for meditation, Young was asked to make a window saying “yes” to the viewer but also to ask a prolonged “why”.
In the revision process, the spray of symbolic wheat forms became a more open and expressive part of the design. The first sketch appeared to the committee as too similar to the olive branches in the well-known United Nations logo. Young worked closely with Lacy Barger Johnson in selecting the glass colors; the final selections worked perfectly with the final design rendering. Robert Cooper, glass artist and painter, was charged with interpreting the acid etching of flashed glass and adding glass painting on both sides of the glass. This detail created a sense of timeless age to enhance the window’s ability to serve as a memorial to the century and a half traditions of St. John the Evangelist Church.
The window was fabricated in our production studio managed by Marsh Nabors. Tom Crouch, design manager, worked through the myriad of details of the complicated steel and wood framing system and flat panel LED lighting. Austin Richardson executed the fabrication of the framing system and installation of all the component parts on site at the newly finished chapel in Boston. Austin, with the assistance of the facilities manager Jim Woodworth and his staff, during the winter of 2016 “deep freeze” record setting cold winter temperatures, installed all the components that make up the stained glass window.
On February 21, 2016 the stained glass window was blessed in a special service officiated by the Rt. Rev. Alan Gates, Bishop of Massachusetts, The Very Rev. J. P. “Jep” Streit, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Rev. Canon Dr. Katharine Black Canon for Liturgies, Betsy Munzer, Fund Raiser Extraordinaire and Jim Woodworth, Facilities Manager. The service was attended by a combined membership of St. John the Evangelist and the Cathedral Church of St. Paul’s parishioners.