I managed to pull off another surprise trip for my son. This time the destination was back home, to New Jersey and New York. I think he was shocked that we were able to get him again, but that’s what makes it fun! And that’s the point… It’s those little moments in life, especially as a kid when you realize you’re not going to school today, that make life exciting. It’s just a shame that they’re few and far between.
Once we were settled into our hotel, we headed out to Morristown. The first thing on the agenda was lunch, and my God-Daughter recommended The Committed Pig, for their gourmet burgers.
Brendan had the Burgernut, and I had the Mac & Cheese Burger. Yummy!
Marcos just had to be different, and went with the Quesadilla.
After lunch, we headed down the street to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Yes, more cool history and Taphophilia fun! I am definitely a “Tombstone Tourist!” Morristown is very rich with historical sites, but we only had so much time. The rest will have to wait until our next trip!
* The Congregation of St. Peter’s was founded in 1827. This church, in the Gothic Revival style with a Norman tower, was built beginning in 1897 and was designed by the New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White. Inside is a carillon with bells cast in England, imported stained glass windows, a chapel window of Tiffany glass and a Spanish rood screen. Since no stone was put in place until it was paid for, the church took 24 years to complete. In the graveyard are many Macculloch family members, Millers, Fords and Vails, including Alfred Vail, co-inventor of the electromagnetic telegraph with Samuel F.B. Morse. The unusual table-top gravestones were used by family members who would visit their loved ones and picnic in the graveyard.
** The grave stones found… Offer a good sample of grave stone art of their time. The earliest stones were of sandstone. This reddish-brown sedimentary stone, found along the banks of New Jersey rivers was popular with local carvers because of the ease with which it could be worked. In the early 19th century, marble gained in popularity, perhaps due to the growing classical influence in the arts. Not being available locally, marble was more expensive than sandstone. It also was more difficult to carve. Both sandstone and marble have difficulty standing up to the ravages of time.
***** Buried at the church is Alfred Vail, inventor of the telegraph. Vail’s business partner was Samuel F.B. Morse. Morse, as a portrait painter had many friends and patrons throughout the United States, especially in Washington, D.C.. Vail worked on the technical issues, while Morse was the promoter for the venture. With his prominence promoting the telegraph, he was credited for the Morse Code.
Alfred Vail’s monument at St. Peter’s tells a different story. Not surprising, his family founded American Telegraph and Telephone, known today as AT&T.
*** Many of the Ford family, whose mansion served as George Washington’s Headquarters here in Morristown during the Revolution, remain at St. Peter’s churchyard. Gunpowder, romances, lawyers, and wealth, sleep beneath the yard in the Ford family graves.
It’s really hard to wrap your head around the fact that the life expectancy during the American Revolution was only 36, and during the Civil War just above 40. It’s sad seeing so many graves of babies and young children, who were wiped out by childhood illnesses. Modern Medicine has come a long way.
Lots of information on the history of the prominent Ogden and Wetmore families, can be found here from the book “Ogden Family History in the line of Lieutenant Benjamin Ogden of New York” by Anna S. Vermilye, at Forgotten Books.
These are called table tombs… Some folks say they were used as picnic tables when visiting deceased loved ones. I don’t doubt that it’s ever happened, but I think the point is to protect them from the elements, and from people walking on them.
When you see a lamb on a headstone, it usually means it’s the grave of a young child. The lamb symbolizes innocence or sacrifice.
**** George Macculloch and his wife Louisa rest on the other side of the yard. The Macculloch family plot, being on the east, was the most prominent location for the sun to rise on judgment day. Louisa Macculloch was Anglican and had to take a coach to Newark or Manhattan for church services; otherwise she attended Morristown’s Presbyterian Church. At Louisa’s request her husband and son-in-law Jacob W. Miller were founders of St. Peter’s in the 1828. George Macculloch, having lost his export fortune with the War of 1812, created the Morris Canal in 1826 connecting the Delaware and Hudson Rivers across New Jersey.
Below is a memorial marker in honor of a soldier who was killed in action, during World War I. He’s actually buried in France.
The two little tombstones below are footstones, that belong to the big obelisk above. The footstone just serves as a boundary marker for the grave plot. They remind me of a bed, that has a headboard and a footboard. Footstones usually just have the initials of the deceased.
To lose one child is difficult enough… But to have lost two, or three, or four… Especially at such young ages, must have been unbearable.
The guys were patiently waiting for me to finish up. They are so used to my antics by now, they don’t even give it a second thought, LOL.
Poor Little Minnie. Sigh…
Once I was done with outside, it was time to go inside.
***** During the past 100 years, St. Peter’s has been the recipient of many beautiful gifts that enhance the magnificent Gothic-styled structure. As you enter from the Narthex, you will immediately become aware of the English stained glass windows done in the manner of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and the nineteenth-century Tiffany window in the chapel.
***** Approaching the chancel and sanctuary from the center aisle of the nave, offers a good view of the handsome wrought-iron rood screen of Spanish design. The cross with the crossed keys associated with St. Peter is at the center; across the top on either side of the cross, are symbols associated with the Passion. The great corona, the “crown of light,” was originally a gaslight and adapted from one found in an English cathedral. Both the screen and corona date from 1893.
***** The marble baptismal font, traditionally positioned near an entrance, to signify that through baptism we become members of the family of God, is Italian renaissance in design. The recess is done in Roman mosaics with a design of the Dove of the Holy Spirit in the center.
There are just no words to describe how beautiful this church was. We should all be so lucky, to worship in such a beautiful place.
***** The hand-wrought chandeliers throughout the nave and chancel carry the symbols of the first apostles (excepting Judas) and St. Paul in the framework.
***** In the rear of the nave encased in glass is the “Our Lord in Glory” banner. Carried in processions from 1891, it was designed and made by the Sisters of St. Margaret of East Grimsted, an English order devoted to making fine ecclesiastical embroideries.
***** Among the finest treasures of St. Peter’s are the beautiful stained glass windows. Several visits would be needed to fully appreciate the richness of color and the exquisite details of the designs. Except for two windows, they are made from English glass of the type used in the fourteenth century.
By 1890 the chapel was finished and ready for holding services, while the old church was being removed to make way for the construction of the nave. The decision to install a stained glass window above the altar was made, and following Mr. McKim’s suggestion, the Vestry and Building Committee proceeded to install one of Tiffany glass. This new type of glass was produced by a method developed by the Louis C. Tiffany Company. The effects of perspective and depth of color was produced by the varying thicknesses of glass. The design was sent to Edwin Abbey in England who prepared drawings, painted the glass, and supervised the burning process. Upon the installation of the window in 1894, the Vestry realized that the Tiffany glass was not appropriate for the medieval style of a building like St. Peter’s and decided not to use it for the rest of the windows. Temporary stained glass was installed until such time that a suitable glass could be installed.
It was not until 1907 that the final arrangements were made for the windows throughout the church. After reviewing designs from several makers, the Vestry gave the commission to James Powell and Sons of the Whitefriars Glass Works in London. The Whitefriars had been engaged in making glass for over 200 years, following the methods to produce glass of the quality found in fourteenth century windows. James Powell visited St. Peter’s in 1909 to study the architecture, light, and color of the interior. The overall design was to harmonize with the Gothic architecture but “should reflect the artistic strengths of the twentieth century.” Groups of small figures and a mosaic effect were preferable to large figures in a church of the size of St. Peter’s. Mr. Powell elected “to adopt a technique and palette reminiscent of the Golden Window of Wells, which is recognized as the finest example of the stained glass of the fourteenth century.” The windows were installed over a period of time from 1910-1926.
The last stained glass window to be installed is located in the stairway going up to the niche pulpit in the chapel. This is the design and work of Morristown artist Mimi Starrett and was installed in 1988.
***** The altar is a memorial to Bishop George Doane, the second Bishop of New Jersey, and was installed in 1892. Made of Sienna marble and resting on a platform and steps of Numidian marble, it is decorated with a large cross and five others which symbolize the wounds of Christ. The massive silver cross on the altar was designed by Mr. McKim, the architect; the two candlesticks of silver gilt are done in an antique Spanish design.
***** To the left of the door hangs the flags of our Allies in World War I.
***** Hanging from the pillars of the nave are the festive banners completed by Louisa Keasbey in the 1930s. They represent either an organization or a tradition within St. Peter’s and were carried for many years in processions to celebrate All Saints’ Day. The designs reflect a Byzantine influence, and the fabrics are antique brocades, satin and velvet, embroidered with gold and silver threads.
This beautiful Eagle Lecturn, reminds me of Dumbledore’s Owl Lecturn in Harry Potter. Ha, ha. For real!
***** Not so much to be seen as to be heard, is the Skinner organ installed in 1930. It is one of the few of these instruments in this country, that has not had the tone or keyboard altered.
***** The Italian marble altar in the chapel, was emplaced in 1926, after the original altar and its furnishings were given to the newly formed parish of St. Paul in Morris Plains. To the left of the altar is the banner, “The Good Shepherd.” The design, based on one in the Catacombs of Rome, is one of the earliest symbols associated with Christ. The background fabric is from a wedding gown of a parishioner.
***** An interesting feature of the chapel is the niche pulpit such as can be found in many fourteenth century parish churches in England.
***** As you leave the church through the Narthex, you will pass under the fine carillon at the top of the tower. The first bell was purchased in England in 1922. It was followed over a period of years by 46 others, also cast in England. On the outside of the tower is a weather-cock, so placed in accordance with an ancient custom practiced in England.
It was truly hard to leave this beautiful church, and I’m so thankful that they leave it open for the public to enjoy. I even got to hear the organist practice. Sigh…
Afterwards, we stopped by my Sister-in-Law’s house for dinner.
Her house is so cozy… Especially in the Fall and Winter!
I wish we had more time with them, but she had to work (a lot), and the kids had school and Football. We’ll see them again soon!
It was a long first day. But there was definitely more fun to come!