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John La Farge Stained Glass

First Church (North Church)

Faith and Charity, Francis and Martha Peabody Memorial Windows

Faith and Charity, Francis and Martha Peabody Memorial Windows, 1893

First Church (North Church)
316 Essex Street
Salem, Massachusetts 01970 USA

The First Church in Salem is one of the oldest protestant churches in North America, and can trace its origin back to 1629.  The current church structure dates to 1835. This  imposing early Gothic Revival stone building with a central square tower at the entrance was built for the North Church, which had separated from the First Church in the eighteenth century. The First Church and North Churches reunited in 1923 in the Essex Street building.[1] The architect was Gridley J.F. Bryant. Later he partnered with Arthur Gilman, and they designed the Old City Hall in Boston (1862-65) in a Second Empire Baroque style and helped design the grid layout of the streets in the Back Bay.

There are two windows by John La Farge in the First Church, a pair of lancets contained within a larger pointed arch. The windows depict the cardinal virtues of Faith and Charity, and were donated in memory of Francis and Martha Peabody in 1893.  Each virtue is represented by a full-length standing woman in classical robes. One holds an oil lamp, and one holds a palm frond; both have opalescent halos. The face of each figure is based on Mary Whitney, La Farge’s long-time assistant and mistress. Quatrefoil panels beneath the figures contain a dedicatory inscription.




[1]  Rev. Jeffrey Barz-Snell, “A ‘Short’ History of the First Church in Salem,” Accessed on June 10, 2015.