Posts Tagged ‘Boston’

I’m not as limber as I once was and so I was having difficulty getting through the window but I didn’t have to fret for long because a stranger took my hand and pulled me through and when I lost my shoe on the rim of the window frame, he picked it up and gave it back to me and then turned and continued to help other strangers out of the train.

I wasn’t sure that I’d write about the chaotic experience of being on the Orange Line train yesterday in Boston’s Back Bay Station that filled with smoke. In the moment I was less concerned about the possibility of a fire in the station and more concerned about the growing panic of the people around me. Later I just wanted to let the incident go. But then today I picked up something and I remembered the feel of that man’s hand holding mine.

It was rush hour. People had had a long day and just wanted to get home. The car in which I stood was not packed but it was tight enough especially as most of us wore the beginnings of our winter gear. The lights were on but there wasn’t much air circulating and the intercom system must not have been working because there was no news being shared by anyone. The train had partially pulled away from Back Bay Station before coming to a halt, and later, officials would note that that was the reason the train operator could not open the doors, because of the danger of people stepping onto the tracks and landing on the electrified third rail. But most people were not thinking of that as the smoke grew thicker, and from inside the car, we could see people on the platform start to run for exits.

Even as I was starting to say, please, be calm, I felt my own panic rising. And then people began to scream, especially when they realized the doors were not opening. People began beating at the windows. The smaller windows on the sliding doors were easier to break. Individual flight was on many a person’s mind for sure but others were trying to help scared people through the small openings. Then in the part of the car where I stood, a man on the platform motioned people away from a larger window. He was not a train official or one of the policeman stationed in the area. He was just a regular guy. He kicked at the window, again and again, until it flew in, a single large sheet, shattering into a spider’s web pattern but no jagged edges did I see. People started leaping out the window while that man and some others stood, held out their hands and helped strangers out. I did not stop to ask his name but I think I shall never forget him.

Read more: Boston Globe article

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The church was decorated with Easter lilies and pink roses and the entrance to each pew marked by a cluster of lilies. Palms were placed in pew openings and stood at various points to create a natural chapel. Upon the altar more lilies and roses. The war had limited the number of guests in attendance but even so Emmanuel Church on April 21, 1915 was filled with those wishing well the bride and groom, Leslie Hawthorne Lindsey of Boston and Stewart Southam Mason of England.

william lindsey, father of the bride, and daughter leslie lindsey

The bride wore white satin made with rose point lace and garnitures of small clusters of orange blossoms. The flowers held in place a veil of Limerick lace made especially for Miss Lindsey in Ireland the previous year. She carried a bouquet of white orchids and jasmine. Her wedding party wore shades of blue and pink silk, their gowns adorned by rosebuds. The bride maids carried baskets of pink sweet peas.

After the ceremony, there was a reception in the Bay State Road home of the bride’s father, William Lindsey. The bride’s mother now wore blue silk in a shade known as moonlight embroidered with baskets of silver. Flowers prevailed, decorating each room, smilax in the hallway, greenery entwining railings and baskets of roses on the stairs. Bells rung in celebration on both sides of the Atlantic as everyone knew that soon the bride and groom would return to his home in England and all they need do was board the Lusitania.

rms lusitania

rms lusitania

The RMS Lusitania would depart New York for Liverpool on May 1, 1915. On May 7, it would be torpedoes and sunk by a German U-boat. At least 1, 198 passengers and crew would die, including newlyweds Leslie Lindsey and Stewart Mason.  When the body of Leslie was returned to her father she wore the jewels that her father had given her.

A heartbroken father would do several things over the years in memory of his lovely daughter, one of which was to buy a piece of property adjacent to that of Emmanuel Church in 1919.  A chapel would be built. Begun in 1920, the structure would be finished in 1924.

The chapel was designed by the architectural firm Allen & Collins. John Ninian Comper (1864-1960) designed the chapel’s decorative scheme from the altar to the chapel’s signature stained glass windows. Sadly, William Lindsey did not see the finished chapel. His youngest daughter shared memories of seeing her father sitting across the street watching the building’s construction and knowing he would not live to see it completed.

Sources and Further Reading

History of Lindsey Chapel on Emmanuel Church website

Boston Evening Transcript, April 21, 1915

John Ninian Comper

Emmanuel Church building information

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Bust of Dean Stanley at Trinity Church

I took the picture, I did the research and this is what I learned:  On Easter Monday in 1877, Rev. Phillips Brooks was given leave by his parish, Trinity Church in the City of Boston, to take a sojourn to Europe.  While in England, he spent time with Arthur Stanley, Dean of Westminster Abbey. Brooks was invited to preach at Westminster in July, and it is written that Dean Stanley listened with delight to a doctrine after his own heart.  Brooks would later share in a letter, “Last Sunday I preached for Mr. Stanley at his church in London, and William and I were much in the little man’s company while we were in his town.  He is very pleasant and entertaining, but much changed since his wife’s [Lady Augusta Stanley] death. He has grown old and fights hard to keep up an interest in things.”(1)

In the autumn of 1878, Dean Stanley traveled to America. In Boston he preached for the Rev. Phillips Brooks at Trinity Church.  Brooks would later write that no one who heard the benediction at the close of the service would ever forget it. “He had been but a few days in America. It was the first time he had looked an American congregation in the face. The church was crowded with men and women of whom he knew that to him they represented the New World. He was for a moment a representative of English Christianity. And as he spoke the solemn words, it was not a clergyman dismissing a congregation, it was the Old World blessing the New; it was England blessing America.  The voice trembled while it grew rich and deep, and took every man’s heart into the great conception of the act that filled itself.”

In 1881, following Dean Stanley’s death, Phillips Brooks would write a 12-page retrospective for The Atlantic Monthly.  In conclusion Brooks would highlight lessons of faith and good will he thought taught by Stanley’s life, and then end with these words:

“These lessons will be taught by many lives in many languages before the end shall come; but for many years years yet to come there will be men who will find not the least persuasive and impressive teachings of them in Dean Stanley’s life. The heavens will still be bright with stars, and younger men will never miss the radiance which they never saw. But for those who once watched for his light there will always be a special darkness in the heavens, where a star of special beauty went out when he died.” (3)

Miss Mary Grant, an eminent British sculptor and Stanley’s niece by marriage, would execute a memorial bust.  That bust would be given to Trinity Church to commemorate his visit.  It is located in an area that I believe is known as the baptistry.  His visage “stands upon a bracket of Sienna marble … beneath which is a tablet of Mexican onyx, on which is engraved a tribute by Robert C. Winthrop.” (4) And sitting across from him?  A bust of Phillips Brooks.

Bust of Phillips Brooks by Daniel Chester French

Bust of Phillips Brooks by Daniel Chester French

Learn more about Trinity stories in stone and glass with a tour: http://trinitychurchboston.org/art-history/tours

Sources for this post …

(1) Phillips Brooks, 1835-1893: Memories of his life … by Alexander Viets Griswold Allen (1907)

(2) Life and Correspondence of Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Volume 2 by Rowland Edmund Prothero (1893)

(3) The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 48, October 1881

(4) Trinity Church in the City of Boston, 1888, pp. 31-32

(5) Mary Grant

(6) Phillips Brooks Bust image is from Wiki Commons


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In the Back Bay, I’ve been walking past the First Baptist Church of Boston for years, but, today, for the first time, I trained my camera up to the top of the building tower.  And what an amazing sight.

Designed by Henry Hobson Richardson, “… its square tower is 176 feet high. At the top of the tower … is a frieze of sculpted figures representing baptism, communion, marriage and death. The frieze was designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, famous for the Statue of Liberty, and was carved by Italian artists after the stones were set in place. It includes the faces of Sumner, Longfellow, Emerson, Hawthorne, Lincoln, Lafarge, and his comrade Garibaldi, and other prominent Bostonians …” (History of the First Baptist Church of Boston)  I hope to learn more about this amazing building, and take more photos, over the summer.

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I’ve lived in the Boston area for quite a while now, but there are always captivating images to be found in familiar places, like the Boston Public Garden.

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These scenes are from Boston’s Back Bay along historic Commonwealth Avenue.  I must say, I am quite thankful spring has finally arrived. 😉


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church window


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Photographing the stained glass windows at Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston is a treat.  The rich colors of the glass.  How the sunlight shining through at different hours can produce a different effect in the same window.  Even in those windows that are clear.  But I often tell people when entering the building, don’t just look up.  Look at the wood.  Check out the door knobs with their intricate details, and be sure to look down.  You never know what lays at your feet …  or under them.

p.s. Self-guided and guided tours are available of this beautiful building.  Learn more about tours here.

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As a child in Virginia I never imagined that I’d spend so much time as an adult in a place like Trinity Church watching sunlight stream through stained glass windows and play upon walls designed and painted by the likes of artist John La Farge.  This is a photograph of one of those murals.  I’m pleased at how it turned out as a postcard.  Soon to be available in the church Book Shop.  There is a wealth of information available in books and online about John La Farge.  I found particularly interesting this article about the rivalry between La Farge and Louis Comfort Tiffany.  Below are a few additional images of the murals.  Just a tease really because no picture can compare to the real thing. 😉

Learn more about the artist John LaFarge, architect Henry Hobson Richardson and much more on the church website.

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