St. James' Episcopal Church
This Church of ours is open to all .... There will be NO outcasts!
The Most Rev. Edmond Browning
St. James’ Episcopal Church was first called the Parish of St. James. It was established as a mission by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Milwaukee's East side. Although, the two churches are only two miles apart, in 1850 the west side needed a church presence for a growing population. The site of the new church was considered a fair distance from town.
The present stone church structure was erected in 1867 over the Spring Street Burying Ground which was known for its scent of wild roses. The building burned on the evening of December 31, 1872. The cause was never determined, but it started around the organ. At first, people thought the church could be saved. Unfortunately, several errors by the fire department led to the destruction of the building. Only the bell tower and the walls survived.
On April 19th, 1874 the church was once again open for services. At its peak, St. James’ was the largest church in the Diocese of Milwaukee, and its influence was compared to that of Trinity Church on Wall Street.
Over the years, St. James’ grew into an urban church located downtown, a central city church. The life of the parish passed into a new period more complex in character. The construction of the Marquette interchange and the freeway divided the surrounding neighborhoods. Now, St. James’ is a destination church.
Milwaukee changed, time marched on, but some things at St. James’ have remained the same: 1) The membership over the decades has been passionate about their outward focus and involvement in mission work. At its lowest point, St. James’ had become inwardly focused. 2) Liturgy, music and tradition are valued by all members. At one point the boy’s choir was well known throughout the city. Presently, we have Joyful Noise, a group of member musicians who are dedicated and growing in stature. 3) Members love their beautiful building. It is not unusual for guests to comment, “Now this is how a church should look”.
Currently, St. James’ is an outgoing, energetic, outwardly focused community of people; a community of people who happen to like each other very much and if you miss a Sunday someone will notice. Your name is remembered.