In 1823 William Strickland, Philadelphia’s premier architect designed St. Stephen’s Church - one of many buildings he built in Philadelphia. St. Stephen’s is one the few of his church buildings which has survived. It was a unique design in its day - heralding the end of the neo-Classical style and ushering in what became Gothic revival. The first service was held on February 27, 1823.
During the Centennial
year of 1876, St. Stephen’s played host to people of every nation
who came to Philadelphia for the festivities. In 1878 a much needed
enlargement of the church was effected by breaking through the north
wall, and building the transept and gallery. Frank Furness was the
architect for this addition. He also decorated the walls of the entire
church. This redecoration represented the exuberance of the high
Victorian age of which both Furness and St. Stephen’s were emblems. In
the photograph below, which was taken about 1917, can be seen the
transept, with its rose window, and some of the stencils which Furness
applied to the walls throughout the church.
St. Stephen's - Circa 1917
Furness Stencil Detail