ST. JAMES EPISCOPAL CHURCH, PARISH HOUSE AND CEMETERY
1848-1975, current building 1976
Built in 1735 at what became the southwest corner of 51st Avenue and Broadway, St. James Church is the oldest surviving building in Elmhurst, and the City’s second oldest extant religious building. Chartered by King George III, it is a remarkable Colonial-era mission church that still retains its early 18th-century rectangular box-like form, wood shingle siding, round-arched windows, and heavy timber framing. In 1772, the building was lengthened and the main entry moved from the south side to the Broadway façade.
Prominent citizens associated with the parish included the Reverend Benjamin Moore, a president of Kings College (later Columbia College), and the Reverend Samuel Seabury, Jr., the first American Episcopal Bishop. It was also a place of worship for British officers and men during the Revolution.
In 1848, after a period of growth, the parish built a larger church a block away and Old Saint James Church became a chapel and later a parish hall. It was renovated and altered over the years, until 2004 when it was restored to how it appeared in the 19th century.
The new St. James Episcopal Church located in 84-07 Broadway was originally a three- story wood-frame structure with windows made in Germany. It served the community from 1848 until 1975, when it was destroyed by arson. Parishioners were only able to salvage some vestments, altar linens, and brass ornaments from the rubble, but despite the considerable losses, they were able to rebuild the following year. This site also harbors a cemetery, where some of the original settlers of Elmhurst are buried.
Photo of the first new St. James Church courtesy of the Queens Library