History of St. Andrew’s

ST. ANDREW’S CHURCH –  Newcastle, Maine

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St. Andrew’s was dedicated on November 22, 1883, by Henry Adams Neely, Bishop of Maine. Both the land and the church building were the gift of Captain William T. and Katherine Cottrell Glidden. Before that, Episcopal services were held in private homes and in the Taniscot Fire House, Newcastle.

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Captain Glidden was a wealthy ship owner, merchant and an original director of the Union Pacific Railroad. Born in Newcastle in 1805, he went to sea at the age of twelve and ultimately became partner in the firm of Glidden and Williams, which operated some of the best known clipper ships in the middle of the 19th century. Glidden lived in Newcastle and Boston and was frequently in England, a possible source of acquaintance with the British architect Henry Vaughan.

Vaughan came to America on Glidden’s packet Atlantic Clipper and lived with the Gliddens in the large, white house on Glidden Street, called Riverside. During this time he designed not only St. Andrew’s Church, but also a large Georgian home for the Glidden family at the end of Glidden Street, named Gladisfen. which was inspired by the Lady Pepperell house in Kittery Point, Maine, the Vassall-Longfellow house in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Pierce House in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Henry Vaughan (1845-1917) was born in Cheshire, England, but grew up in Scotland. He ultimately associated with the eminent British architect, George Frederick Bodley, becoming head draftsman of the firm of Bodley & Gamer. It was in this firm that Vaughan became steeped in the Gothic tradition of mid-Victorian Britain. William Morgan, Vaughan’s biographer, speculates that “it could have been a genuine missionary impulse to bring English Gothic to the American branch of the Church of England” that led to Vaughan’s move to the U.S.

The exterior of St. Andrew’s is unique in its “half-timber” style, popular in England in the 15th century. St. Andrew’s is one of the first American buildings to employ this style. While not a direct copy of any church building, Vaughan was clearly inspired by St. Peter’s, Melverley, Shropshire, England, built in 1406. It too overlooks a beautiful river, the Vyrnwy, on the Welsh border. When St. Andrew’s addition was planned in 1988, great care was given to match this half-timbering.

The exterior of the church gives very little hint as to the extraordinary richness of the interior. The church, according to Vaughan’s own description “is divided into seven bays by arches which form the principals of the roof. The chancel consists of two bays and has an arched roof (barrel-vaulted) divided by ribs into square panels and decorated with emblems and monograms. The nave has an open timber roof.”

The dominant interior colors are olive green and maroon, two of Bodley’s favorite colors. The overall scheme of elaborately painted stencil work is Vaughan’s design. When the Vestry of the church was unwilling to fund it, Vaughan did it himself, taking an entire summer, working principally on his back (recalling the tradition of Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel!).

In the chancel, Vaughan covered the walls with an intricate floriated design, not unlike a William Morris wallpaper of the same period. The square panels in the ceiling are set off by banded ribs and contain simple floral wreaths which encircle the monograms “A” for St. Andrew, “IHS”, the first three letters for “Jesus” in Greek, and at the top by symbols of Christ’s passion. An enlarged version of the wreath’s five-petaled Tudor Rose motif is repeated across the nave ceiling.

The color and richness of the interior is augmented by the reredos, organ case, and baptismal font. The gilded reredos is a London recreation of a 14th century Florentine triptych. The framework with hinged doors, was executed in England possibly under the supervision of John LaFarge who is said to have done the three painted wood panels. The central panel is probably a copy of a Perugino “Madonna and Child, Enthroned.” The figures on the side panels are said to have been taken from the “Baptism of Christ” by Andrea del Verocchio, now in the Uffizi in Florence, Italy.

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The pipe organ is tracker-action and was built by George Hutchings of Boston in 1888. It is considered by organ enthusiasts as the finest Hutchings in existence. The casework was designed by Vaughan and shows his exquisite handling of 15th century flamboyant woodwork as well as his devotion to the High Church and Arts and Crafts movements.

The beautiful baptismal font, given “in loving memory of Katherine Cottrell Glidden” by her grandchildren in 1892, was also designed by Vaughan. In the words of historian Arthur T. Hamlin, “St. Andrew’s was blessed beyond measure in the selection of Henry Vaughan as the architect.” Vaughan went on to design scores of churches, school chapels, and academic buildings up and down the east coast, including three buildings at Bowdoin College.  His final commission was the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Although death from lung cancer in 1917 robbed Vaughan of the opportunity to complete this huge edifice, the dramatic chancel is his work and he is buried beneath it.

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The walls of St. Andrew’s nave are decorated with numerous memorial plaques given in loving memory of several parish founders. More recently, kneeling cushions have been executed by members and friends of the parish. These follow a wide variety of themes — sacred, secular, and personal. At the altar rail, an expanse of cushions follows a common theme, a variety of crosses, and was completed by parishioners in 2000.

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In the chancel are two stained-glass windows, one picturing the Nativity of Christ and the other the Ascension of Christ.

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In 1988, a major addition was built, consisting of the Atrium, Parish Library, and Parish Office on the main floor, Clergy Offices on the upper floor, and the Undercroft, Kitchen, Nursery, and Music Office on the lower floor.  In the year 2000, the parish purchased the Colonel White home at 16 Glidden Street. Following its painting and refurbishing, it was dedicated as St. Andrew’s Parish House and now provides meeting space for adult, youth and children’s activities.

St. Andrew’s Memorial Garden was designed in 1976 by Wolcott E. Andrews of Wiscasset, for many years with the New York Parks Department. He was asked by the Vestry to submit plans for a garden on the south grounds of the church property overlooking the Damariscotta River.

The garden is intended to be a place for contemplation, prayer and reflection. A wooden bridge crosses over the top of the garden from the parking area. A fieldstone wall circles down under shade trees and other plantings to the river and includes granite plaques inscribed with names of members and friends of the parish. The wall ends at the columbarium. Cremated ashes are interred in both the columbarium and in the ground.

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