History of Saint James’: The Agnes Wise Memorial Window

PEACE: The Agnes Wise Memorial Window

Two memorial windows were saved from the fire that destroyed the church on October 29, 1910 – the fourth and fifth windows now on the right-hand aisle (south), near the chancel.  Volunteer firemen successfully pried the stained glass windows from their frames.  The fourth window – the Saint Agnes window, was designed by Lamb Studios in 1903.  It depicts a young woman standing quietly, cradling a dove, and bears the following inscription:

To the glory of God and in memory of AGNES WISE Obit. March 25, 1902 – Met. 18 years

Agnes Wise Memorial Window
The Agnes Wise Memorial Window in Saint James’ Nave

The late Douglas Smith and his family usually occupied the pew directly under this window and their children noted that, in their words, “Agnes has a dirty neck” – two black streaks across the neck of the figure. When Mr. Smith offered to have the window cleaned, it was learned that the streaks were from fire damage, burned into the glass, and could not be removed.

Young Agnes Wise, who died at 18, was the daughter of Dr. John Cropper Wise and his wife, Agnes Brooke Wise; between 1900-05, they built the large white Georgian Revival frame house adjacent to Saint James’ Church at 100 Culpeper Street. Dr. Wise also built a mausoleum in Warrenton Cemetery. Church records in 1897 show that Wise family members were communicants. We don’t know the cause of Agnes’s demise, but we know something of her father who gave the window in his daughter’s memory.

Dr. Wise (1848-1922) graduated from the University of Virginia in 1870, entered the U.S. Navy in 1898, and was assigned as assistant surgeon on the flagship of Commodore Admiral George Dewey’s squadron. He was a veteran of the Battle of Manila Bay, May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War when the Spanish Pacific Squadron was destroyed, resulting in Spain’s ceding The Philippines to the United States. Dr. Wise distinguished himself by winning the Medal of Honor.  Later, in Washington, he was on the staff of the Naval Hospital, president of various boards, and appointed by President Taft to the Central Red Cross Committee.

Dr. and Mrs. Wise were living at 100 Culpeper Street when their personal friend, President Theodore Roosevelt, and entourage, rode horseback from Washington to Warrenton, and back to The White House, on January 13, 1909, a cold snowy day. Teddy Roosevelt had recently issued an order that officers must be able to ride 100 miles a day, and as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, he wanted to demonstrate the level of fitness the nation’s army should maintain. At the destination point – the Warren Green Hotel, Dr. Wise presented the townspeople to the President; it was written that the President “was most cordial and genial to all who were presented by Dr. Wise.”

Although Dr. Wise built the mausoleum in Warrenton Cemetery and his name is on one the two crypts, his obituary shows that he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 1922. His wife, Agnes Brooke Wise, lived in Washington at the time of her death at age 74 on March 23, 1933. Church records show that the burial service for her was at Saint James’ Church with interment in Warrenton Cemetery, presumably in the mausoleum.

For their daughter, Agnes, a stone monument beside the mausoleum reads “Agnes, Only daughter of John C. and Agnes Brooke Wise 11/29/1884 – 3/25/02.”  It is not clear if Agnes was buried in the mausoleum or beside it; the mausoleum may not have been completed at the time of her death.

Although the family lived in Warrenton for only about 20 years, they had many friends here and were active members of Saint James’ Church.  Mrs. Wise had been baptized and confirmed; a son, Henry, was a communicant in 1904.  We remember them all by this beautiful memorial window, saved from the ravages of fire, and reinstalled over 100 years ago.

Wise Mausoleuem edit

Compiled: History Committee – Richard Gookin   March 2016

Sources: Parish Register; Fauquier Historical Society email dated 11/29/2011; The Windows of St. James’ Episcopal Church, 1995; An Old Timer in Warrenton and Fauquier County, by M. Louise Evans