A Brief History of St. James Episcopal Church
St. James Episcopal Church has the second-oldest church building in downtown Wooster, just one block north of the Square in the center of town. St. James members worshipped downtown even before they constructed a church building. We treasure our location at the city’s heart and continue to try our best to serve the needs of those who live and work there, including the city’s homeless people. 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
St. James Church - 1982
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.
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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.
Rectors and Interim Priests:
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- The Rev. Evan N. Fischer
Sanctuary Prior to the Installation of the Schantz Organ
Installation of the Schantz Organ - 1954
Installation of the Schantz Organ - 1954