The History and
artist John La Farge crafted two windows in 1883 for Elizabeth Winthrop
and Ellen and Ida Mason. These memorials were dedicated to their deceased
sisters, eight year old Anna and twelve year old Clara. The windows were
installed in the Mason family chapel on Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
and were described in the July 5, 1883 edition of the Boston Evening Transcript:
. . .
the warm rich colors of the La Farge windows are easily recognizable
by their deep tones . . . indescribably beautiful and touching.
This chapel, now
the chapel of the Episcopal Divinity School, underwent renovations in
1917. The donors granted permission to move these windows to an Episcopal
mission church in the shoe manufacturing town of Whitman.
almost a century, the Mason Memorial Windows have greeted the parishioners
of All Saints Parish, as well as residents enjoying the Whitman
Town Park near the church.
The Mason Memorial Windows are not only beautiful memorials, but
they also hold a great deal of artistic and historical significance. John
La Farge, discoverer of a new stained glass technology, patented
the opalescent glass manufacturing process in 1880. By mixing bits of
various materials into the molten glass, La Farge was able to produce
unique visual effects. Through the use of opalescent, ripple and confetti
glass in these windows the distinctive genius of John La Farge shines
through. Glass jewels add to the artistic effects. Some of the glass used
in these windows was experimental in nature. The angels robes in
one window consist of a purple confetti glass which is believed to be
addition to his new glass designs, La Farge used heavy plating and lead
lines of various widths as well as very sophisticated mitering. These
techniques give a depth and a three-dimensional aspect to the windows
that other artists could not achieve. La Farges unique execution
is especially noticeable in the maroon robe of the Clara Mason Memorial
Window, where the plating is three to four layers thick.
The Goals of
117 years, the Mason Memorial Windows are in need of repair. Pieces of
glass are cracking, the lead and putty used are deteriorating, and the
integrity of the windows is being compromised. The windows are beginning
to deflect or bow under their own weight. At some point in the windows
history, the painted faces were replaced when the original ones began
to flake and peel. Unfortunately, the new faces were completed in a manner
that is not consistent with La Farges Gothic Revival style. An example
of an actual La Farge face is illustrated above.
The goal is to restore
these windows to their former glory as envisioned by John La Farge. The
cracked and deteriorating pieces of glass will be repaired. The entire
windows will be releaded and reputtied. The faces will be restored. Appropriate
protection and ventilation will be installed. With proper backlighting,
these works of art will be shared with a larger community for all
In preserving these
historical works of art, Anna and Clara Mason, and all those who have
died before their time, will once again be commemorated as La Farge intended.
The full restoration of the Mason Memorial Windows will cost $125,000.
In an effort to preserve artistic history, we are reaching out to the
community, both near and far, for assistance. If you would like to make
a contribution to help with the restoration of the Mason Memorial Windows,
please call or write All Saints Parish in Whitman, Massachusetts.