Our Stained Glass Windows
The history of these magnificent windows (1925-1937) is unusual. They were designed and made by Oliver Smith (1896-1980), a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. After taking his degree there he went abroad, studying at the London School of Arts and Crafts and inspecting ancient glass in many famous cathedrals. He was especially impressed by Chartres, which was his primary source of inspiration. On his return to the United States he worked for three years in the Pitcairn Studios at Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. While he was there, the Rector of Christ Church, The Rev. George Talmadge (Rector 1911-1934), heard of his reputation and visited him at the Studios. He recommended that he be employed to execute the new windows for the remodeled church, which was endorsed by the Vestry. Dr. Talmadge and Oliver Smith met at Chartres and studied the windows together before the work in Oyster Bay was begun, and the artist was remarkably successful in reproducing the splendid medieval colors.
Smith set up his workshop on the church grounds, the site of the present parking lot, and there designed, colored and fired the glass, which he then assembled with strips of lead. He made his own glass from formulas followed by European glass makers in the thirteenth century, and believed that he had discovered the method by which the great artists of the past achieved their glowing colors.
The three largest windows, in the Chancel and Transepts, were all made in Oyster Bay; those in the aisles and porch were completed later in Smith’s studio in Pennsylvania by the same process.
In 1947 the windows were cleaned and repaired and panels of plexiglass installed on the outside. This has been a most successful innovation; the light is not affected nor the colors dimmed, and the irreplaceable windows are protected from weather and vandalism.