Our windows

One of the rare and unique features of the sanctuary of the church is the painted patterns on the glass windows. The exact history of these seems to have been lost in the fire which destroyed most of the church records, but in a number of ways their history can be pieced together from other sources.

On the sanctuary floor level - that is to say:  the nave, transepts, entrance and music rooms - are a total of fifty separate windows. Eight more windows comprise the clerestory, but these are almost entirely of opaque glass with only one or two scattered patterns in them. The patterns vary greatly but tend to repeat themselves, and most can be easily recognized as having a biblical connotation, such as arks, crosses, stars, anchors, crowns, chalices, cups, lamps, candles, scales to measure weights, doves with a short branch in their beaks, bunches of grapes and lilies. The crown of thorns has INRI1 written inside. There are open Bibles with HOLY BIBLE written across, and the stone tablets of the commandments of Moses bearing the Latin numbers I to X.  

Perhaps the quaintest recurring pattern is the Sacrificial Lamb. It consists of a reclining sheep on an altar under which two layers of logs are ready for burning; the lamb waves a banner like a medieval knight. The patterns in the transepts appeared early in Christian art and were very popular in manuscripts, paintings and sculptures in medieval churches. These are the four Evangelists as derived from the books of Ezekiel and Revelation, shown as a man and eagle on the north side, and lion and ox on the south side, all with wings. The artist labeled them: S MATTHEW, ST JOHN, ST MARK AND S LUKE. To Christians, Matthew symbolized incarnation, Mark resurrection and courage, Luke renunciation, and John ascension to immortality. The inconsistency in the lettering suggests an artist not very used to handwriting techniques.  

On the frame between the front windows on either side of the pulpit are two similar small bronze plaques saying (these window are) In Memoriam for Jane M. Berry (1812-1886) by her daughter Jane Berry Smith. Mrs. Smith was the widow of Johnson C. Smith and was a major donor to Johnson C Smith University and Johnson C. Smith Seminary, two Presbyterian USA institutions in Charlotte, founded in 1867 by two Presbyterian ministers. Mrs. Smith resided in Pittsburgh, PA and became interested in Crossnore through the efforts of Rev. C. McCoy Franklin, the church pastor, who had made several visits to the Pittsburgh area seeking support for both the church and for Crossnore School.  

The front entrance room and the music room on the other side both have windows with inscriptions (with minor variations) at their foot, three in the entrance room and two in the music room. The lettering is in capitals: HIGH POINT GLASS & DECORATIVE CO. Three of these have N.C. added below this maker’s name. No date is given.  

The placement of the bronze plaques and the fact that there are two suggest that their inscriptions refer to all the windows in the church, a point reinforced by the unity of the overall plan. Many of the patterns are cut off as if the windows had been made and then cut to the needed size. All the windows are identical in style, so appear to have been made at one place at one time and were therefore made according to specifications supplied by the architect and installed in early 1926. The wooden frames have deteriorated badly over these 86 years and are in dire need of replacement, and the colors of the designs have also faded badly over time. Many thanks are due to Peggy Hufnagel who spent long hours last year repainting the patterns and bringing the colors back to their original brilliance.

Crossnore Presbyterian Church • 200 Chapel Drive • PO Box 386 • Crossnore, NC 28616 • 828-733-1939 • cpcpcusa@gmail.com