St. James Episcopal Church
St. James Episcopal Church Lafayette Square, or St. James African Episcopal Church, founded in 1824, is a historic Episcopal church now located at 1024 W. Lafayette Avenue in the Lafayette Square Historic District of Baltimore, Maryland.[from Wikipedia]
History The historically African American parish, the first Colored Episcopal Mission south of the Mason–Dixon line, was first organized and Rev. William Levington held its first service in an "Upper Room" at Park Avenue and Marion Street on June 23, 1824. Only St. Philips Episcopal Church in New York and St. Thomas Church in Philadelphia (where Rev. Levington was ordained) are older. The congregation moved several times under Rev. Levington, building a new church at North (now Guilford) and Saratoga Streets which was dedicated on March 31, 1827. After his death, the congregation had a series of white ministers and lost its status as an independent parish.
Rev. George Freeman Bragg, a historian of early African Episcopal congregations, became the congregation's rector in 1891 (by which time it had moved to Lexington and High Streets). He served 49 years until his death in 1940. In 1901 the congregation had grown such that they built and consecrated a new building at Park Avenue and Preston Street. By 1924 this parish was among the largest Black Episcopalian congregations in the country, with more than 500 parishioners. On Easter, 1932, the congregation held their first services in the current building, which it had bought from the white congregation, Church of the Ascension, which had moved to Middle River, Maryland.
Rev. Donald Wilson served as rector from 1963 until his retirement in 1986, and oversaw significant changes in the neighborhood surrounding the parish. Under his leadership, the parish invested in the surrounding neighborhood, building the St. James Terrace Apartments in 1968.
In 1993, lighting struck the church and destroyed the rose window, among other significant damage, but Bishop Charles L. Longest reconsecrated the building on June 11, 1995. The congregation's next rector, Michael Bruce Curry (1988-2000) resigned to become Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. The current rector, Allen F. Robinson, has served since 2002. In 2008, the parish hosted the diocesan convention which elected Eugene Sutton as the first African American to become Bishop of the Diocese of Maryland.
[following list of locations in Baltimore City is compiled from James Wollen and other sources provided by Mary Klein and Mary Miller. The numbers appear on the annotated maps where St. James was located for the years noted. I can supply high definition images of what is shown below, annotated with the locations.]
1824-1826: at Park Street and Dutch Alley (after 1835-Marion Street), upper room; first worship service June 23, 1824 According to Reverend Levington he established his school (Day and Sunday) in Baltimore on June 23, 1824 where he performed divine service and held school until the last of March, 1827, when he moved to the new church at is what is now the corner of North (now Guilford) and Saratoga Streets.
1827-1888: church built on land given by James Bosley, Esq. (according to deed, on the 19th of April, 1825) which was located on the SE Corner of North (Guilford) and Saratoga Streets (March 31, 1827, first service).
- 1844: Survey- Brick 50’ x 25’
- 1853 doubled in size by 2nd story
1888-1889: Howard Chapel (q.v.), Grundy Street, now Park Avenue between Lanvale and Dolphin Streets
- 1889 alterations- (J. Appleton Wilson)
1890-1901 on High Street, West side, south of Pitt, now Lexington Street, formerly 4th or High Street Baptist Church
1901, October 18 to March 25, 1932 (Good Friday) at Park Avenue and Preston Street (Ghequiere & May)
1932, March 28 (Easter Day) Moved to Lafayette Square in former Ascension Church (q.v.)
- Current location- 1020 W Lafayette Ave, Baltimore, MD 21217,
- 1867 (Hutton & Murdoch)
- 1876 Parish House (Frank Davis)
- 1990s Parish center across Lafayette Street
- includes 1906 Bromley Atlas of Baltimore City; Reverend Bragg's orphanage for colored boys
- Levington Constitution for the Church (1829); bios of Eli Worthington and Darius Stokes; research on Old Hagar (d. 1835); Professor Lawrence Jackson
- Whitridge Family; servant; Sybby Grant (1861) Patty Atavis; JHCOA-Harriett V. Washington?; Dr. R. S. Steuart Letter to John L. Carey (1845);
- Phyllis Chandler Green on St. James, Reverend Levington; Reverend George Bragg bio info
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