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.

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War Shrine in the nave - 1943

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Christmas Fair - 1945

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Rectory Building - Built 1869, Razed 2000

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St. James Church - 1982

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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   

                   remodeled.

         - 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

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Installation of the Schantz Organ - 1954

Installation of the Schantz Organ - 1954