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A Brief History of St. James

St. James Episcopal Church is the second-oldest church building in downtown Wooster, but our members worshipped downtown even before they constructed a church building. Our present church building was constructed in three stages during three centuries: the sanctuary in the nineteenth, the first parish hall in the twentieth, and St. Nicholas Hall in the twenty-first.


St. James Church in the late 1800s.


War Shrine in the nave - 1943


Christmas Fair - 1945


Rectory Building - Built 1869, Razed 2000


Church Dinner - 1945


St. James Church - 1982


Sanctuary Prior to the Installation of the Schantz Organ

Important Dates:


1833 - First Episcopal worship services in Wooster at Courthouse in late October.

1840 - St. James Parish organized.  Services held in old Courthouse.

1841 - First services held on Christmas Day in new 50 x 75 ft. frame structure built                           on West South Street on a lot donated by James L. Bowman and his wife.

1860 - The South Street church was declared unsafe following a fire in May.

         - Services continued in the basement of the English Lutheran Church and at

                  Arcadome Hall on East Liberty Street until November, 1860.

         - Present sanctuary and nave built at Market and North Streets on property

                  donated by John Larwill and first services were held on November 15.

1867 - The church was consecrated by Bishop Bedell after all debts were paid.

1869 - Rectory (later used as church offices) built on North Street east of the                                    church.

1888 - Wooster's first pipe organ was installed at St. James Church -- the water

                  powered Felgermaker organ.

1911 - Steeple and north tower destroyed by tornado on June 4.

1928 - Parish Hall was built.

1943 - War Shrine at west end of nave established to honor parishioners serving                           in the military. 

1949 - Interior of church remodeled and a Wurlitzer electric organ installed.

         - The Rev. Eugene Buxton crafted and installed a new black walnut reredos                             and new lantern light fixtures – all part of the remodeling.

1954 – Nine of the original leaded glass windows were replaced by new German-

                  crafted stained-glass windows built and installed by Franz Mayer &                                    Co., Munich, Germany, as ordered through the Russell Church Supply                                Co., Winston-Salem, NC.  They were dedicated June 16.  Three                                                additional windows were installed during the next several years.

1972 - Deteriorating church towers removed.

1978 - People to People Ministries opened offices at St. James Church.

         - Interior of church renovated and Schantz pipe organ installed.

         - Dedicatory service for renovated church was held on November 2, with                                  the former rector then Bishop of Bethlehem, PA, The Rt. Rev. Lloyd E.                                      Gressle, officiating.

         - Brown Bag Recitals first offered to community.  (Recitals benefited the                                    Viola Starzman Free Clinic for many years.)

1983 - Sacristy, parish hall, church school classrooms, kitchen and undercroft   


         - 150th Anniversary Service commemorating the first Episcopal services                                     held in Wooster.

1995 - Present church towers erected.

2000 - Church offices moved to 127 West North Street.

         - Former office building (originally used as a rectory) razed.

2001 - Columbarium constructed in narthex of north tower.

         - New exterior entrance to kitchen completed.

2016 - Plans drawn for Building Expansion and Renovation of the existing Parish                               Hall. Architect David Krebs and Simmons Brothers Construction                                           Company hired to design and build the expansion and renovation.

2018 -  Occupation of the newly built facilities, which were dedicated on

                    January 30th by the Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Bishop of Ohio.

                    The Parish Hall was dedicated to St. Nicholas.

2020 - Outer portions of the towers completely rebuilt in Azek lumber to                                                improve durability and eliminate rot.

2022-  The sanctuary and sacristy were completely rebuilt after storm damage. 

                    Many original pieces of the architecture (including the arches and

                    reredos) were able to be saved.


+ + +


St. James' present church building is believed to be the second oldest church building in Wooster.  First Baptist at Market and Larwill Streets is the oldest.

Clergy at St. James:

1900-1907    The Rev. Henry D. Stauffer

1908-1909    The Rev. A.A. Abbott

1909-1910     The Rev. L. Cody Marsh

1913-1918      The Rev. George Walton

1921-1926     The Rev. J. Frank Jackson

1927               The Rev. Ian Robertson (Interim)

1928-1942    The Rev. Charles D. Herring

1942-1948    The Rt. Rev. Lloyd E Gressle

1948-1972    The Rev. Eugene H. Buxton

1972-1973     The Rev. Wilbur R. Ellis (Interim)

1973-1979     The Rev. Walter Krieger

1980-1989    The Rev. Carl W. Peterson

1987-1990    The Rev. Horace A. Dutton (Interim)

1990-1996    The Rev. John C. Holliger

1996-1997    The Rev. Dawson D. Moorer (Interim)

1998               The Rev. David S. Sipes (Interim)

1998-2016    The Rev. Evelyn N. Manzella

2016-2023    The Rev. Evan N. Fischer

2023-            The Rev. Meghan Carlson (Priest-in-Charge)


Installation of the Schantz Organ - 1954

Installation of the Schantz Organ - 1954

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