History of St. James'
The Episcopal Church had its beginnings in the Sault area in 1832 when a mission was established. A few years later, all missions were discntinued and there was no Episcopal service in the area for about 40 years.
In 1880, the Rt. Rev. S.S. Harris, Bishop of Michigan, visited the Sault area and arranged for the first service to be held in the schoolrooms at Fort Brady.
Later that summer, a permanent mission was organized. A new building opened on Christmas Day in 1881. It was the barest of structures and was built on property near the present location of War Memorial Hospital.
By 1885, St. James' Church became a self-supporting congregation and was incorporated as a Parish of the Episcopal Church late that year.
The congregation soon outgrew its original church buildin and the construction of the present building was begun. Stone from the power canal excavatoin was donated for the construction of this church building. Rough lumber and timber were also donated, as were the memorial stained glass windows.
The Building is of Gothic Revival design patterned after English parish churches of the late medieval period. The typical Gothic hammer beam ceilings and the Tiffany stained windows are some of the notable features of the interior. The Resurrection window over the High Altar and the beautifully hand carved figures of the four Evangelists on the rerodos are of special interest. The spectacular west window is the third larges stained glass window in the state. The window in the south chapel depicts the Ascension, and the one in the north chapel depicts the Nativity.
The needlepoint kneelers for the communion rail and Acolytes, plus the wedding kneeler and kneeler for the Litany Desk wer designed and fashioned by church members. In each kneeler, there are approximately 240,000 stitches.
The first service was held in the new church on April 12, 1903. 1,906 chimes, consisting of 11 bells, were given to the city by Chase A. Osborn. These bells are located in the tower of St. James' because it was the only place in the city large enough to hold them. They are still in use today and can be heard Sunday mornings.
In the mid 1920's, it became evident that the organ purchased in 1886 for the old church would have to be replaced. The 317 pipes of the old organ were cleaned and revoice to become a part of the echo division of the new organ. The new organ, built by the Wicks Pipe Organ Company, has 2,000 pipes, was installed in 1927 and is in use today.
In 1919, after much effort by its member and with great help from the community, the remaining debt of St. James' Church was paid of and the building was consecrated in April of that year.
At the time of its 50th anniversary in 1952, an extensive remodeling, relighting and redecorating program was undertaken. Many memorials were given toward the refurbishing of St. James' Church, including the cathedral red carpeting.
Episcopalians and many other residents of Sault Ste. Marie are proud of this beautiful church building.