St. James’ Episcopal Church II
Life Span: 1875-Present
Location: SE corner of Wabash and Huron Streets
Architect: Faulkner & Clarke
St James’ Church
Chicago Tribune, April 27, 1873
Among the many churches that added to the beauty of our city before the fire none was better or more widely known for the beauty of its edifice, the extent of its charities, the social position of its congregation, or its general influence in this and neighboring communities, than St. James’ Episcopal Church. Founded a very few years after the first settlement of our city, it was known and recognized amongst Episcopalians as the “Mother Church of the Northwest,” and its ministers have been amongst the ablest and most eloquent in that denomination.
Only a few months before the fire the new building, situated on the corner of Cass and Huron streets, had been fully completed, and the massiveness of the structure, as well as the richness and elegance of its finish, was a source of pride to the city generally, as well as its own people. But the fire came, and, as it spared nothing in its track, the great churches of the North Side were all swept away, and amongst them St. James’. In its destruction its congregation participated more fully than those of of most churches; for, with scarcely an exception, they lost their homes at the same as their church, as St. James’ stood in the midst of its parish, and so its congregation was left homeless as well as churchless.
It was within a few weeks left without a pastor also, as its then rector, Dr. Thompson, was called to New York, and accepted the call. With characteristic Chicago energy, however, the congregation came together, subscribed a fund for immediate expenses, and called the Rev. Arthur Brooks from Williamsport, Pa., who accepted the call, though offered three times as great pecuniary inducements by a wealthy Philadelphia congregation.
Fortunately, the walls of the vestibule were left standing for some twenty feet in height, and, as early in April as the work could be accomplished, this was roofed in and finished, so to make a neat temporary chapel, seating nearly 300 persons.
Steps were then taken to rebuild the church, and, plans being decided on, furnished by the well-known church architects, Messrs. Faulkner & Clarke, a large number of pews were sold in advance, and the work commenced. Fortunately the grand old tower, 140 feet high and about 25 feet square at the base, proved too solid to be destroyed, and though the bell was melted as it hung in the air by the intense heat, the tower itself remains, scarred, and, in some places, shattered on its exterior, but destined to stand through many future years as the “fire monument” of the North Side. The beautiful war monument, erected of Caen stone and white marble to the memory of the young men of the congregation who fell during the war, was so protected by the iron beams and masonry of the vestibule that it also escaped almost unharmed. and stands in its old place, occupying the entire north end of the vestibule at the base of the tower.
With most of the “show part” of the church left, it remained to construct the church proper, and this is being done on a scale that will make it one of the grandest church edifices in the country, Its extreme length will be over 180 feet, while the entire width across the transepts will be about 109 feet. The church, also will be much larger than formerly, and of apsidal form, and the organ, instead of being placed, as before, in the south transept, and, consequently, near the pulpit and chancel.
The basement will be twelve feet in height, and give a main audience-room capable of seating nearly 700 persons, while the church proper will accommodate almost double that number. All the walls are now up above the main floor of the church, and the means on hand warrant the Building Committee in guaranteeing that the church will be enclosed, and ready for occupancy, by the first day of next September—a most necessary result, as the present chapel is already crowded to overflowing, and the early return of most of the congregation to their old homes—new homes now—and the great additions already making to the North Side of people from other sections of the city, who find that neighborhood more convenient to the business quarter, will at an early day make the new congregation far larger than the former one. The main audience-room of the church will be closed, as already stated, by Sept. 2, and the Building Committee state that it will be ready for occupancy on next Christmas day if a few more of the congregation—say a dozen or fifteen—will put their hands in their pockets to the extent of buying pews previous to the completion of the church. A large portion of the congregation have been thus liberal, and there is no doubt that if the church building can be completed by next Christmas, the whole cost will not only be paid by that time, but a sufficient number of additional pews can be sold by this time next year to clear the church of every dollar of indebtedness whatever.
The Civil War monument that survived the Great Fire of 1871.
The Building Committee, consisting of W. K. Nixon (Chairman), E. H. Sheldon, F. H. Winston, J. T. Ryerson, and J. S. Rumsey, have promised that the building shall be completed as rapidly as the means at their command will allow; but not one dollar of indebtedness whall be incurred in the rebuilding, and their reputation as prompt and reliable business men is sufficiently known in the community to guarrantee their carrying out their promises in both respects.
By the last of this year, therefore is but little doubt of old St. James’ being restored in a new building far larger and more beautiful than the former one, and we trust that very soon thereafter its congregation may also be restored to their old places in its neighborhood—if not in their old homes, in new ones equal in beauty and all good gifts to those that passed away on October 9, 1871.
Chicago Evening Mail, September 15, 1873
St. James Episcopal Church Wrecked by This Morning’s Gale.
AT about 8 o’clock this morning, while the gale was at its height, St. James Episcopal Church, southeast corner of Huron and Cass streets, was quite seriously damaged. The north side of the roof was raised up and tossed about, beating the top of the wall, and knocking off the coping, besides loosening the upper courses in the body of the wall. The side entrance to the church, which extended out in the shape of a vestibule, was completely wrecked.
The damage is probably $500, and if the roof has to be taken off in order to repair the wall and the injured trusses, it will be greatly increased, besides the loss of time which will necessarily result.
Messrs. Faulkner & Clarke are the architects, and Messrs. Ogden, Nixon, Sheldon, and Winston, members of the Building Committee.
Chicago Tribune, September 12, 1875
Trial of the New Organ at St. James’ Church.
The informal opening of the admirable organ just erected in the new St. James’ Church took place on Tuesday evening last. The audience was quite large, and consisted chiefly of musical connoisseurs, who universally expressed themselves as delighted with the power, variety, and beauty of tone of the instrument. Quite a varied programme of selections and improvisations was presented as follows:
The organ is so good that it deserves a more detailed examination than we are usually able to give new organs. The back-bone of an organ is the diapason work. Both the “great organ” diapasons (the 16 and 8) are of rare beauty of tone. They are full, mellow, clear, even, and in every way satisfactory. Mr. Eddy pronounced them the best diapasons he had heard in the United States, and in his opinion the other organists fully concurred. The soft 8-foot stops, (the gamba, doppel flote, and spitz flote) are extremely well voiced amd greatly enrich the tone-fabric of the great organ. On this foundation is superimposed the usual overwork, the octave, super-octave and a very brilliant mixture of five ranks. These harmonic stops, instead of screaming and snarling, as is too often the case, blend beautifully with the foundation work, and build up one of the most delightful ensembles we have ever heard. Add to this flue-work the splendid 8-foot trumpet and the clarion (4-foot), and we have a body of tone in the highest degree solid, telling, and satisfactory,—neither unsubstantial for want of proper foundation, screamy in the treble, nor glum and dumpy, but, as said before, brilliant, solid, clear, rich, and musical. We are the more particular here because this balance of tone is in no sense an accident, but purely the result of skill and care on the part of the builder,—a skill and care here shown to be of the first order of merit.
The swell organ, of course, we judge from a different standpoint, since its particular office is to afford soft and delicate effects. Here we turn first to the stops commonly used for solo purposes, the oboe, cornopoeon, and vox humans, all of which are of superior quality. The full swell organ is extremely rich and powerful.
Chicago Tribune, September 28, 1875
The New St. James.
St. James’ Episcopal Church, which stands on the corner of Cass and Huron streets, and which was destroyed by the great fire of 1871, has been rebuilt in elegant and imposing style, and the last touches are now being given to the inside finishing. The decorations are very fine, and the arrangements for seating, etc., not surpassed in the city. The wood-work of the pews, wainscotings, etc., is of solid oak, fully equal to any other church here. The interior will be lighted by three “sunbeams” in the roof, and by numerous side-lights. The organ is pronounced a fine instrument.
Those having the building in charge are making every effort to have it ready for an anniversary service Oct. 9, the anniversary of the great fire. If this effort prove successful, the exercises will be of special interest.
Chicago Tribune, October 10, 1875
ST. JAMES’ CHURCH.
The reopening of St. James’ Episcopal Church was celebrated last evening with appropriate ceremonies, in which Bishop Clarkson, of Nebraska, the Rev. Clinton Locke, D.D., the Rev. Edward Sullivan, D.D., Canon Knowles, and others of the city clergy, took part, with the Rev. J. J. Harris, D.D., the rector of St. James. The church was organized in 1834; the first edifice was built in 1836; and a second and larger on the present site, corner of Cass and Huron streets, in 1857, which was destroyed in the great fire, when the new church was erected the opening of which was celebrated last evening. The present edifice, which was last night opened, is one of the largest and handsomest in the city, and one of which the parish may well be proud.
The services opened with the 192d Hymn, “Triumphant Zion,” followed by reading of the “Eructavit cor meum” and the “Deus noster refugium.” The first lesson was from Isaiah ix., 15-19, followed by the anthem, “Cantate Domino.” The second lesson was from Rev. xxi., 2-5, succeeded by the anthem “Daus Miseratur.: The Apostles’ Creed was then recited, after which prayer was offered.
The opening address was made by Dr. Harris, in which he made graceful reference to the restoration of the dear old church in more stately proportions than before, He introduced Bishop Clarkson, of Nebraska, former Rector of St. James, who briefly sketched the history of the church from its foundation to the present time. In passing, Bishop Clarkson made pleasant allusion to the time when on leaving the East to enter upon the Rectorship of the church his friends bade him farewell as one bound on a mission to a far-off land, and he set his face toward Chicago as a place abounding in canal-boats and mosquitoes, and where the inhabitants frequently mysteriously disappeared from sight in the surrounding swamps.
The Rev. Dr. Thompson, formerly Rector of St. James, followed in a brief address, in which he recounted some of the earlier struggles of the Church. The exercises concluded with the 289th Hymn, “From all that dwelt below the skies,” followed by prayer and the benediction.
Rand McNally Bird’s Eye Views of Chicago, 1893
At the southeast corner of Huron Street, the Episcopal Church of St. James, celebrated for the distinguished character of its communicants and the long and honorable history of its congregation. The church is built of rough-hewn limestone, the bell-tower rising to a height of 135 feet, and containing a beautiful chime. The rector of St. James is the Rev. Floyd Tomkins, Jr.
St. James’ Episcopal Church
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map