Original Interior of First Church

The following is an excerpt from the History of the First Church in Boston: 1630-1880, by Arthur B. Ellis (Hall and Whiting, Boston; 1881), page 310, providing a description of the interior of the church written by the architects, Ware and Van Brunt.

“The subjects of the windows in the body of the church are: On the north side, ‘The Transfiguration’ (erected in memory of Turner Sargent) and ‘The Syro-Phoenician Woman,’ contributed by Miss Elizabeth Foster. On the south side, ‘The Good Samaritan’ (erected in memory of John Eliot Thayer) and ‘St. John at the Last Supper’ (erected in memory of Miss Abby Joy).

“At either end of the transepts are similar windows, but of much greater size, being nearly twenty feet high. Those in the north transept contain full-length figures, about the size of life, of St. John and St. Paul. The subjects beneath are ‘The Women and the Angel at the Sepulchre’ and the ‘Departure of Paul from Ephesus.’ The St. John window is erected in memory of Peter C. Brooks, and the St Paul window in memory of Thomas Beales Wales.

“The south transept is occupied by windows of similar size (contributed by Messrs. Nathaniel Thayer and Edward Austin), containing, in the place of the Apostles opposite, inscriptions relating to the history of the church. On one is the covenant under which the church was gathered, signed by Governors Winthrop and Dudley, etc. Beneath is the ‘Vision of the Man of Macedonia,’ — the carrying of the gospel into Europe having been considered by the founders of this church as the prototype of its introduction into America, the text ‘Come over and help us ‘ occurring in the original seal of the colony. The other window contains a list of the ministers of the church during the two hundred and thirty-eight years since its foundation. Beneath are figures of the four evangelists. The other windows were furnished out of the funds of the society, and consist, for the most part, merely of decorative work. The great Rose, however, at the end of the church, over the entrance, contains in the centre a figure of the Lamb, and about it a choir of angels singing and playing upon various instruments. In the north transept is also a small window, nearly on a level with the eye, containing in four compartments the story of the Prodigal Son.

“All the windows are filled with English glass, executed in London in accordance with the architects’ sketches, and are made of what is called mosaic glass work, as distinguished from enamel painting. …

“The color decorations of the church, which are very carefully studied, and executed with great elegance, are quiet, but rich in effect, and carry out the general sentiment of gravity and repose intended to be conveyed by the treatment of the whole interior. From the ends of the hammer-beams, and from the roof at the centre of the church, are suspended chandeliers of bronze and gold. . . .

“The church contains one hundred and eighty-seven pews, provided to accommodate nine hundred and fifty-five persons. It is heated and ventilated by steam.”