MHT File Photo
St. Mary's Church
St. Mary's Ch. & Emmorton (MD 24) Roads, Abingdon, Harford County
St. Mary's Church is a small Gothic Revival parish church, carefully designed in the "Early English" manner. The buttressed, locally quarried, gray rubble stone walls, with cut Port Deposit granite trim, are relatively low and thick, and support a very steep slate-covered roof. The structure is without clerestory and side aisles. The nave is of five bays, and the chancel, to the east, is of two bays. The principal entrance is through a south porch, in the English medieval tradition, located one bay east of the westernmost bay. A small sacristy, with its entrance, extends from the north side of the chancel. East and west gables terminate the roofs with granite copings or parapets, now covered with copper. A base for a bell-cote tops the western gable, but the bell-cote was never built, and a large stone cross of recent date stands across the base. An ornamental chimney, with a fleur-de-lis, the symbol of the Virgin Mary, in a bas-relief panel, rises from the south wall at its intersection with the east wall of the porch. In the Early English manner, most windows are tall narrow lancets. Three lancets, a taller and wider one flanked by two shorter and narrower ones, are above the altar in the east end. The west window of the nave is a single, tall, wide opening without tracery. Only one window--the east window of the chancel's south wall--has tracery, consisting of a center mullion dividing into two unadorned pointed arches at the head. The glass is by William Butterfield, and was purchased during the latter half of the 19th century from Gibbs of London. Perhaps the most notable detail of this small parish church, it is a matched set of period glass, rich in pattern and color, portraying the life of St. Mary.
St. Mary's Church is the only church in America to have a complete set of stained glass windows designed by William Butterfield, the English Gothic Revival architect. The British-made stained glass is indicative of the strong English influence on the ante-bellum phase of the Gothic Revival in America, of which St. Mary's Church is an important example. A renewed interest in Gothic forms in England an a contemporaneous religious revival with strong High Church tendencies combined to orient ecclesiastical architecture toward medieval styles. An American artist associated with St. Mary's was Johannes Oertel who did the chancel paintings. Oertel was born in Bavaria and studied painting in Munich. He came to America in 1848 and worked as an art teacher and portraitist. Between 1857 and 1858 Oertel designed the ceiling in the chamber of the House of Representatives in the Capitol. He became an Episcopal priest in 1871. His work is located in many churches, including the National Cathedral in the District of Columbia and the University of the South in Tennessee.