Consecrated in 1823, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church counts among the earliest American churches to adapt church architecture from the Middle Ages. It is the sole Gothic Revival style building from this period remaining in Philadelphia and the only Gothic Revival building by architect William Strickland to survive.
Thirty years later, in the early 1850s, the interior of St. Stephen's gained three large marbles: two funerary marbles and a baptismal font with life-size figures and an intricately wrought silver-gilt lid. Produced for prominent church members Edward Shippen and Eliza Howard Burd, these striking forms are the basis for the church's reputation, beginning in the 20th century, as "Philadelphia's Westminster Abbey."
Stained Glass Windows
Among St. Stephen's key Gothic features are its tall stained-glass windows with pointed arches. Such windows differ dramatically in look and effect from those in American Colonial churches like Philadelphia's Christ Church, with its clear glass rounded-arch windows surmounted by fanlights. In line with its Gothic Style architecture, the windows at St. Stephen's were designed to inspire solemn reverence with dappled, luminous color in a shadowy atmospheric space.
The original planned windows did not arrive from England in time for the consecration, but their installation by the late 1820s makes them the earliest existing stained-glass windows in Philadelphia and possibly the United States. Over time, windows were changed, added, or suppressed as new generations of parish members modified the interior. The result is a visually rich and diverse historical survey of American stained-glass windows over a century, including windows by the renowned Tiffany and D'Ascenzo Studios.