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Focusing on St. Stephen’s through stained-glass windows

St. Stephen's celebrates 175th anniversary

Rick Cloran of Swampscott speaks about the Ascention scene Tiffany stained glass window behind him that will be the focus of St. Stephen's Memorial Episcopal Church's fundraising efforts.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

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St. Stephen's celebrates 175th anniversary

St. Stephen's Memorial Episcopal Church is celebrating its 175th anniversary on Saturday.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

St. Stephen's celebrates 175th anniversary

Lucinda Dennis-McClain of Lynn looks through the Tiffany stained glass windows of St. Stephen's Memorial Episcopal Church.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

St. Stephen's celebrates 175th anniversary

The altar of St. Stephen's Memorial Episcopal Church.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

St. Stephen's celebrates 175th anniversary

Light strikes religious books among the pews of St. Stephen's Memorial Episcopal Church.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

St. Stephen's celebrates 175th anniversary

The Ascention scene Tiffany Glass window is the focus of St. Stephen's Memorial Episcopal Church's fundraising efforts. The window and wall surrounding it are in need of a restoration.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

St. Stephen's celebrates 175th anniversary

Marilyn Cloran of Swampscott shows the Ascention scene which will be sold as a memento of the 175th anniversary of St. Stephen's Memorial Episcopal Church in an effort to raise money for renovations.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

St. Stephen's celebrates 175th anniversary

The wall that supports the Ascention scene Tiffany stained glass window will have to be repaired if the window gets restored.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

St. Stephen's celebrates 175th anniversary

Rick Cloran of Swampscott speaks about the double-paned Tiffany stained glass windows at St. Stephen's Memorial Episcopal Church which are believed to be the only double-paned examples in the United States.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Marilyn Cloran has worshipped at St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church her entire life and the Lynn native will welcome visitors to the South Common Street church Saturday to celebrate its 175th anniversary.

The towering reddish-brown stone building endures thanks to dedicated volunteer work by Cloran and fellow St. Stephen’s faithful who said they face a task almost as tall as their church to keep the massive building from deteriorating. 

Their initial focus is on restoring the 13-foot by 25-foot stained-glass window facing Lynn Common. Properly restoring the window means rebuilding the deteriorating wall surrounding it. Cloran and fellow congregation members Irene Axelrod and Virginia Fuller are no strangers to expensive repairs to the church: Extensive exterior work on St. Stephen’s Blossom Street cost almost $1 million. 

For Cloran, the challenge is a labor of love. Her grandparents and parents were married in St. Stephen’s.

“It’s my whole life. It is part of me,” she said.

Saturday’s free church tour, complete with a brief history of St. Stephen’s, starts at 10 a.m. and runs through 2 p.m. The tour includes the opportunity to view the almost 50 stained-glass windows, including the four largest ones designed by famed sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens and artist Francis Davis Millet and crafted by Louis B. Tiffany.

Visitors will also see the central courtyard where 19th century Lynn industrial Enoch Redington Mudge and his wife, daughter and son, Charles, are buried. Colonel Charles Redington Mudge died on the battle of Gettysburg’s final day. 

Built between 1879 and 1881, St. Stephen’s was the much larger and grander successor to the original St. Stephen’s built across the Common in 1844. Initially a worship house for wealthy Bostonians summering along the North Shore, the church’s congregation expanded as immigrants moved into Lynn and Mudge built the existing church to honor his son’s memory. 

It can seat 600 worshippers and Virginia Fuller remembers when overflow crowds converged on St. Stephen’s for Easter services. Today, Fuller estimates about 80 people attend Sunday services. 

St. Stephen’s was among the founding churches that launched the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) almost 30 years ago and the church continues to host ECCO meetings and organizing. It also supports a food pantry. 

Cloran and Fuller organized St. Stephen’s 175th anniversary celebrations with Christopher Trahan, Lucinda Dennis-McClain, Pamela Alleyne, Charlelle Breckenridge, Carolyn Hoy, Harry Jackson, Paul Stonkus and Irene Axelrod

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