ST. JAMES CHURCH, located at 1681 E. 55th St. (at Whittier Ave.) since 1890, was founded in 1857 as a mission of Trinity Episcopal Church (see TRINITY CATHEDRAL). The earliest services were held in a school at St. Clair and E. 40th streets. The first church was built 1864-66 at the corner of Superior and E. 26th in what was a neighborhood of English settlement. Rev. Richard Bury took charge of the parish, serving until 1871. Among those serving on the vestry were SAMUEL L. MATHER and Zenas King (of the KING IRON BRIDGE CO.). In 1886 the Superior Ave. property was sold, and a lot acquired on E. 55th St. The small size of the congregation, and the lack of money, nearly caused the church to be disbanded at this time.
On 7 July 1890, the cornerstone of the existing church was laid, and on 10 Oct. of that year the church was dedicated. Horace B. Smith was the architect of this stone and frame church, which has elements of the Richardsonian Romanesque and Gothic Revival styles. Theodore C. Foote was the first rector of the church at its new location. In 1919 Vivian A. Peterson came to that position, serving 45 years until his retirement in 1964. In 1970 Frank C. Irvin was instituted as rector.
The church has long been noted for its music. WALTER BLODGETT served as choirmaster and organist from 1936-50. Under his leadership an annual music festival was produced, and at the festivals several classical works had their Cleveland premieres. A Holtkamp organ installed in the church in 1937 was restored in 1980. In 1978 the church withdrew from the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA and became a member of the Anglican Church in North America. The church remains widely known for its Anglo-Catholic traditions as well as for its music.
Irvin, Frank C. A History of St. James Church (1990).