About Saint Botolph Stained Glass Windows

The Saint Botolph neighborhood has a lot of beautiful stained glass. It was once called "Stained Glass Row."

This website tells the story (and may someday offer a self-guided walking tour map) of our local stained-glass treasures.

This neighborhood is an official historical district. It covers a rectangular area in the southwestern-most corner of Boston's Back Bay. It stretches 8 blocks east to west but runs just 2 blocks north to south. It is one block south of the Victorian+ “Avenue of the Arts” – today’s Huntington Avenue/Route 9. About 150 of the original street addresses remain from 1900 when the original development was complete.

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Boston plans of the St Botolph neighborhood

Our glass windows are displayed in entry ways, over bay windows, and sometimes as singular architectural features. A recent survey by SBNA found that about 200 stained glass windows still adorn buildings in the 16-block Saint Botolph neighborhood.

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The entryways of 109 & 171 St. Botolph St.
brilliantLY display the craft of stained glass. 

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About Cleaning Stained Glass Windows

How to reduce the risk of grout damage

I asked former St. Botolph craftsman Jim Anderson about how to clean stained glass windows, and his answer surprised me. I didn't realize that stained glass windows need repair every hundred years or so!

After windows are finished and the leading soldered, most craftsmen apply a linseed-based grout to both sides of each pane to make it waterproof. Grout naturally dries and crumbles after 70-110 years, and needs repair. How you clean the window impacts the useful life of your grout.

Jim related that he cleans the new grout off with sawdust and whiting, then waits for it to dry. Then to eliminate streaks, he uses a little Windex misted onto a rag-free clothe. With old windows, he uses as little water as possible, 

“Mist a little Windex onto a paper towel and clean each pane separately, but avoid wetting the grout. Whatever you do, don’t spray cleaner onto the stained glass window!”

If your windows need repair or you are interested in commissioning a new window, Jim's workshop is on Tremont Street in the South End. Jim worked for the big St Botolph firms when he was learning his craft.

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Doorways of Saint Botolph

 

About this Project

It started with a conversation on the front stairs of Claire's townhouse on Saint Botolph Street. Claire Dargan was the Communications Officer for the St Botolph Neighborhood Association in 2020. She and Dan d'Heilly, an occasional SBNA and SW Corridor Park volunteer, talked about enjoying our stained glass on evening walks and the local history of stained glass manufacture.

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A Stained Glass Adventure

So Dan started taking photos of stained glass windows in the Saint Botolph neighborhood after dusk.
One evening, he turned south onto Cumberland Street, and a young woman was already walking down the street in front of him. H
e stopped in front of several homes to take photographs.

When she got home, she notified the police about a potential burglar and posted a warning on www.NextDoor.com. Someone who lived on Durham saw her post, and checked their front door video reel. Then they posted a video of Dan online at NextDoor.

After returning home, Dan checked his email and saw the post on NextDoor - a "burglar" casing the neighborhood?!

After briefly admiring the video, he realized the Boston police were coming! For a brief moment, it seemed like a reasonable idea to leave the country, but calmer heads prevailed!

Fortunately, his Saint Botolph Neighborhood Association "accomplice" Claire Dargan also noticed the NextDoor post. Claire replied to the NextDoor world that Dan was acting on SBNA business. The poor alarmed woman called the police to cancel her complaint, and posted an apology on NextDoor.com. 

Dan later told friends that he had learned his lesson, and would not go out at night taking photos.

Most of his friends doubted that he would stop, and they were right. Dan looked at his collection of stained glass windows, and he was pleased... except it was still missing several great windows!