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The Bolton Windows

The windows of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church were executed by William Jay Bolton with the assistance of his brother, John Bolton, between 1845 and 1848. Though preceded by a figural window Bolton made for Christ Church Priory in Pelham, NY, these windows are the first complete canon, or set, of figural stained glass windows made in North America. The Bolton windows consist of six distinct sets totaling 55 glass installations, of which 54 remain. They are divided as follows:

Narthex: 2 windows in the entry vestibule (Narthex) on Presentation themes, 1 removed in the early 20th century, plus 1 decorative window over the main door to the church.

The Jesse Tree: 14 windows under the South and North Balconies, which depict the ancestors of Christ. It is the only horizontal Jesse Tree known in art history.

The Life of Christ: 15 windows that show scenes from the life of Jesus, at the North and South Balcony level, including the large Chancel window over the high Altar, the Ascension of Christ.

Clerstory: 16 windows at the top of the North and South walls that describe Old Testament stories.

Chancel: 4 windows (excluding the large center window), which represent Sacraments and Mortality

Organ Gallery: 3 windows that depict the Gospel writers and musical themes.

The remaining stained glass windows, in the stairwells of the church, are not by Bolton.

The windows are very detailed, both artistically and theologically. Many details cannot be seen unless one walks right up to the window itself. We believe that Bolton intended viewers to stand directly in front of the windows under the balconies (the Jesse Tree windows) and at the balcony level (the Life of Christ windows). The windows create different but equally beautiful effects whether seen from a distance or close up.
Bolton Stained Glass windows detail of angel

Birds are an important feature of many of the windows. Cardinals, bluebirds, partridges, and others appear throughout. Phoenixes are symbols of the Resurrection. Flowers likewise appear often and in profusion. Music is represented in a number of windows, most notably by the celestial musicians in the great Chancel window where St. Cecilia sits at the top playing a small organ, directly opposite the real organ and the church choir.


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