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St. James Episcopal Church

February 7, 2015 - 9:43am
posted by laurie napoleone in batavia, religion, St. James Episcopal Church.

Step back in time this Sunday and celebrate the first of many bicentennial events being held at St. James Church in Batavia this year.

The Sunday service, which begins at 10 a.m, will recreate its first 1815 service.

In preparation for the event, Chairman Jim Ellison said “we looked through the archives and found liturgy that may have been used.”

The service will be at a Chancel Altar, with candles and a small area of pews as if they were to relive that moment in time -- except for one difference. The Reverend Carolyn Lombard will be presiding over the service.

From 1815 until sometime in 1970, only men were allowed to be priests in the Episcopalian faith.

Many of Batavia’s founding families were the first parishioners of the historic church. Many of the streets in Batavia are named after the original vestryman and founders, such as Ellicott, Trumbull, Ross and Richmond. Some of the current members will be attending this week’s service in costume of the 1815 time period.

The community is welcome to attend the service, to be followed by a free breakfast, serving flapjacks and porridge as they would in days gone by.

This is the first of the many as the celebration continues with the following events:

  • April 12 -- A talk about early Batavia by local historian Larry Barnes. The focus of the talk will be about the founders and early vestrymen who played a prominent role in the formation of our city. Barnes will also enlighten listeners by telling of accomplishments of Mary Elizabeth and Robert Wood.
  • April 24  -- A musical presentation by VoxLumine
  • May 2  --  Thanksgiving in May dinner
  • May 9 --  Period Tea and Fashion Show
  • June 6  --  Festival Eucharist Celebration with choral singing and brass accompaniment with celebrant William Franklin, Bishop of Western New York
  • June 13 -- A presentation by Suzanne Oliver, co-author of “The Faith Club.” Her book weaves the story of three women, their religions (a Muslim, a Christian and a Jew) and their quest to understand one another. There will be several studies relating to this book throughout the community prior Oliver’s appearance.

St. James Church, in addition to celebrating its bicentennial, will be starting their annual Friday Lenten fish fry dinners starting Feb. 20  -- eat in or take out at the church hall, located at 405 E. Main St. Any community member (non-parishioners only), who attends this bicentennial kick-off event and breakfast, will get a free fish fry dinner as well.

So come for breakfast, get a dinner, and step back in time and celebrate 200 years of St. James Church.

February 4, 2015 - 2:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Announcements, St. James Episcopal Church.

Press release:

St. James Episcopal Church, Batavia, is celebrating its 200th Anniversary this year. Bicentennial celebration events will take place throughout the year beginning with a special 1815-style church service at 10 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 8. The service will consist of liturgy and music most likely used 200 years ago at St. James, whose parishioners included many of Batavia’s founding families.

Some of the other events planned for the year include:

  • April 12th -- A talk about early Batavia by local historian Larry Barnes.The focus of the talk will be about the founders and early Vestrymen who played a prominent role in the formation of our city. Mr. Barnes will also enlighten us on the accomplishments of Mary Elizabeth and Robert Wood. Along with being a member of St. James Church, Miss Wood was the first director of Richmond Library. Rev. Wood was an Episcopal missionary in China. Miss Wood followed her brother to China and began her life’s work of establishing libraries in China.
  • April 24th  -- A musical presentation by Vox Lumine
  • May 2nd  --  Thanksgiving in May Dinner
  • May 9th --  Period Tea and Fashion Show
  • June 6th  --  Festival Eucharist Celebration with Choral singing and Brass accompaniment with celebrant William Franklin, Bishop of Western New York
  • June 13th -- A Live Batavia appearance and presentation by Suzanne Oliver, co-author of “The Faith Club.” Her book weaves the story of three women, their religions (a Muslim, a Christian and a Jew) and their quest to understand one another. There will be several studies relating to this book throughout the community prior Ms. Oliver’s appearance.

The St. James Bicentennial meshes well with the concurrent City of Batavia Centennial Celebration.

November 11, 2013 - 10:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather, St. James Episcopal Church.

Linda Delecki, a Buffalo resident, came out from her job at Advanced Imaging in City Centre, and exclaimed, "Isn't the snow beautiful?" She then pulled out her camera phone and took a picture of her car before wiping away the snow with a friend's brush.

Just as the weatherman predicted, we're getting snow tonight and the roads are slick.

Below, a picture of St. James.

May 7, 2013 - 3:52pm

Story by Larry Barnes. Photo by Howard Owens.

LANDMARK SOCIETY AWARD PRESENTATION
ST. JAMES ESPISCOPAL CHURCH
405 E. Main St., Batavia
Tower Restoration and Tender Loving Care


The Landmark Society is recognizing the St. James Episcopal Church for its recent efforts to restore this wonderful Batavia landmark.

William Seaver, writing in 1849, stated that for several years, little attention seemed to have been paid to religious matters in Batavia except that religious meetings were occasionally held by “pious” laymen or at irregular intervals by itinerant preachers. One Presbyterian of the time noted that “Mr. Ellicott disregarded the Sabbath and was hostile to religious institutions…it was a common observation that Sabbath-day did not extend westward beyond the Genesee River.”  When a member of a missionary society arrived in Batavia in 1805 to preach, he notified residents of his planned evening lecture, but nobody came. James Brisbane, Batavia’s first postmaster and owner/operator of its first general store, was described by his son, Albert, as a “cold atheist” whose religious skepticism grew with the years.

It was within this context that Episcopal missionaries began visiting Batavia in the period between 1812 and 1815. Services were held in Hickox’s Inn, a tavern located in the county courthouse, Ellicott Hall. By 1815, a sufficient following had developed so that in June 1815 a group of 11 men met for the purpose of incorporating a parish: St. James Parish.

Ground was broken in April of 1816 for a brick church located where Rancho Viejo Mexican Restaurant now stands at 12 Ellicott St. The congregation struggled financially and it took six years to finish the structure. The construction of this first church was of inferior quality and by 1833 it was apparent that the congregation needed to rebuild. Plans were made to build another building on the same site.

The second Episcopal church, built of stone, was consecrated in September of 1836. In keeping with the most popular architectural style of the period, it was of a Greek Revival design.

Bricks from the first church were saved and used to build a rectory immediately to the west.  More than a century later, when this building was about to be demolished during Urban Renewal, the Landmark Society purchased it and restored the structure, as much as possible, to its original appearance.

Just as the first building was plagued by poor construction, the new church also had its problems. Due to faulty materials or inadequately supported beams, only six years after the church was built, the roof and ceiling had to be completely removed and replaced. (Don’t tell anyone, but a pattern seemed to be emerging.) By 1904, this building was deteriorating fast.  The neighborhood had also changed in undesirable ways. Consequently, a decision was made to build anew once again, but elsewhere this time.

This was the home of Adelaide Richmond Kenny, daughter of Dean Richmond, who lived here after her husband and both her parents had died. By the mid-1800s, as historian Kathleen Kutolowski pointed out, the locus of political, social, and economic power of Batavia’s elite “rested within the walls of St. James Episcopal Church.” Adelaide was among those elite. For example, she eventually served on the boards of seven local manufacturing concerns and owned half of the stock in the Johnson Harvester Co.

Circa 1905, property previously owned by the Tomlinson’s was purchased for a new church, using $15,000 provided by Adelaide Kenny. A barn on the property was sold (and presumably moved elsewhere) and the house was torn down, saving the lumber for future building purposes. Only the fence was left untouched, a fence that still exists.

In 1906, 26-year-old Robert North, a Batavian who had recently graduated from Cornell, was chosen as the architect for the new church. Adelaide Kenny had previously expressed a desire to see a building similar in style to the parish churches in the English countryside. In fact, she had given Robert North, in today’s money, $11,000 to go to England for the purpose of studying church architecture. So, it was pretty clear from the start what the style of the new building was going to be.

Adelaide Kenny, with a gift well in excess of $1 million in today’s money, funded the construction of the church as a memorial to her husband, Dr. William J. C. Kenny.  She provided another sum, nearly as large, which was to be invested with the interest used for general church purposes. The cornerstone for the building was set in place in 1908.

The new building was completed in October 1909. Windows from the stone church were reused in the clerestory. The organ, purchased in 1877, was also moved to the new church. The bell, originally cast here in Batavia on Dingle Alley (later Bank Street), having hung both in the first church and the second, was re-hung in the new building. The massive bell tower has been described as an excellent composite of those English towers that are known for exuding dignity, strength, and a feeling of power — features that stem from such towers originally serving as fortresses.

In "A Cycle of Praise," a 1965 publication about the history of the St. James congregation, the authors describe the building this way: “St. James Episcopal Church in Batavia is a handsomely designed building which utilizes, unifies, and richly combines characteristics from many different English parish churches. It has a unity and rational symmetry that is the result of being designed as a complete unit and immediately constructed in toto. The effect is that of a very conservative 15th Century assemblage of components…Gothic principles of building are employed with reserve…All arches are pointed; buttresses reinforce points separating the bays. The roof is relatively steep.”

Eventually, water began leaking into the building causing damage similar to this. In the mid-1960s, the interior water damage was repaired, some gutters were replaced, exterior stonework was repointed, and waterproofing was applied to the exterior.

In the last few years, it has become apparent that another round of restoration work is necessary. Most notably, the mortar used in the repointing of stonework in the 1960s was an inappropriate material and stonework began falling from the tower. (If there were still people alive who had lived through the history of the first two churches, they would probably be saying, “It’s deja vu all over again!”)

There was some discussion about whether the tower should be razed and the building scaled back. But that soon ended and restoration became the goal. Fund-raising began in 2009. A capital campaign among congregants has resulted in pledges totaling $370,000. Another $40,000 has been raised through bicycle rallies, garden tours, a calendar sale, and other such efforts. A total of $109,200 has been received in the form of grants from the New York Landmark Conservancy Sacred Sites Fund, Pepsi-Cola, and the Rochester Community Foundation.

Especially worthy of observation is the fund-raising work undertaken by Laurie Oltramari who, although not a member of the congregation, has devoted a huge amount of time and energy to the effort stemming from her dedication to historic preservation in our community. I understand that Marcia Gann, Jon McManis, Dave Lange, and Father Metcalfe have also played a prominent role in the fund-raising and subsequent restoration work.

In 2011, work began on the stonework of the tower. The focus was on the top 20 feet of the 86-foot structure.

To enable work to continue through the winter, the scaffolding was wrapped. Note the “ribbon” that graced the wrapping at Christmas time.

In addition to the tower stonework repairs, the stained glass window in the tower was also repaired. Glass was re-leaded and cleaned, broken glass was mended, and damaged masonry around the window was fixed.

This work is only the beginning, of course. The road ahead is a long one. But, a good start has been made. The next work will most likely involve refinishing the exterior doors.

And there is more stonework to be repaired.

Those of us in the Landmark Society who have been involved in similar restoration projects especially appreciate what has been achieved so far. It is an honor to award St. James Episcopal Church with this Certificate of Recognition.

December 5, 2012 - 8:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, The Manor House, St. James Episcopal Church.

Tonight, the St. James Bell Choir and the St. James Choir performed a Christmas recital for the residents of Manor House.

November 10, 2012 - 1:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, St. James Episcopal Church.

Members of Adventure Crew 69, Scout Pack 69 and Boy Scout Troop 69 were on the Southside this morning collecting donations for the food pantry at St. James Episcopal Church.

Photo submitted by Jason Smith.

July 28, 2012 - 1:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, religion, St. James Episcopal Church.

Bishop William R. Franklin, the Episcopal bishop for all of Western New York, praised God and praised the efforts of the congregation of St. James Episcopal Church in Batavia today at a dedication ceremony for the restored church tower.

The restoration was a difficult financial undertaking for the congregation, but Franklin said the tower was an important symbol of hope in the community.

"When we look upward, we look to the future and it reminds us that the joy of God belongs to us," Franklin said.

The front doors of the church, which have been kept closed for years because of safety concerns from falling masonry, were once again reopened.

"We open doorways of hope," Franklin said. "We open our doors and go out into the community and give people hope."

Previously: Photos: St. James restoration project reaches pinnacle with placement of new cross

April 20, 2012 - 6:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, St. James Episcopal Church.

Though it ways more than 2,600 pounds, a new Celtic-style cross was placed with loving care atop the tower at St. James Episcopal Church in Batavia this morning.

The cross raising caps a $500,000 restoration project at St. James that should be completely finished some time in July.

Bill Farmer, chairman of Catenary Construction, said his crews have repaired mortar, replaced 278 pieces of stone and put a new roof on the tower. In a few weeks, the white wrapping around the scaffolding will come off, the scaffolding lowered and the giant stained glass window repaired. When that's done, the project is done.

As the cross was raised this morning, Farmer and Rev. Steve Metcalf looked on with obvious joy.

"This is without a doubt the best part (of the job)," Farmer said. "It’s a pretty noble service to set a cross and it’s a once-in-a-professional-career moment."

The cross is a highly compacted concrete, and where the previous cross lasted only about 100 years, this cross will last hundreds of years, Farmer said.

"We're very pleased with it," Metcalf said. "(As I watched the cross go up) I began to think about people being able to see a new cross as a sign of renovation, not only of the building, but of this congregation."

When Metcalf arrived at the church a couple of years ago, he said, the facade was crumbling and it was hard for anybody to even approach the building. The front doors couldn't even be opened.

"There was this sense that we weren't open to the community," Metcalf said.

Donations from the congregation and members of the community along with state charitable grants helped pay for the restoration.

If you're unable to view the slide show below, click here.

March 28, 2012 - 1:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, St. James Episcopal Church.

Press release:

St. James Episcopal Church in Batavia was recently awarded a $19,200 grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation (RACF) for the restoration of the stained-glass window centrally located on the bell tower. The grant was co-written by Laurie Oltramari of the Landmark Society of Genesee County and Marcia Gann from the St. James Vestry.

The grant will help to restore broken glass, shifted and broken tracery, and the structural cast stone surround in the upper part of the window. The artist of the tower window is unknown and depicts the four evangelists with four panels below signifying an event associated with that person.

The grant stressed the role of St. James as a cultural and arts center of Batavia and that the stained-glass window was artwork that is valuable and accessible to the public.

"The churches of Downtown Batavia are incredible historical and architectural gems in our city," Oltramari said. "Many people pass them by without notice. They take them for granted. It is important to recognize them as a foundation to our community."

Among others, St. James is one of the churches that have participated in stained-glass window tours of Batavia. The work for the restoration of the window will be done by Valerie O'Hara of Pike Stained Glass Studios in Rochester.

Since autumn, the St. James tower has been undergoing restoration by the help of Catenary Construction and Bero Architecture. Beyond the RACF grant, the church was also awarded a $50,000 grant in September from Pepsi in which it was the only recipient of funding for historic preservation. It also received a $40,000 Sacred Sites grant from the Landmarks Conservancy.

The Rev. Steven Metcalfe and congregation began a capital campaign to bring in donations, but they are also seeking donations within the community. For more information about the restoration work being done or how you can help, please contact St. James at 343-6802.

December 6, 2011 - 1:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, St. James Episcopal Church.

St. James Episcopal Church, undergoing renovations, was dressed up with a big red bow today. Workers attached the bow to the cover of the scaffolding around the church tower.

July 16, 2011 - 8:44pm

Judy Essig and her two daughters, Jenna and Nicole, were texting away in front of St. James Episcopal Church yesterday.

St. James is in the running for a Pepsi Refresh grant -- the same grant that Robert Morris and Byron-Bergen elementary schools won for the construction of new playgrounds earlier this year -- $50,000 each.

If the St. James community wins the grant, they will use the money for the restoration of the church's bell tower, a project that is still in its early phases.

Laurie Oltramari, president of the Landmark Society of Genesee County, said that the church is getting ready to choose a contractor, and that the Pepsi Refresh grant will fund masonry repairs, architectural and engineering fees, and promotion of the overall project.

Oltramari applied for the grant on behalf of the church out of a desire to preserve one of Batavia's most impressive landmarks. Built by Robert North in 1908, it is based on the Gothic architecture of churches North studied while living in England.

Unfortunately, the tower has been slowly deteriorating over the last 10 years due to water infiltration and very hard mortar in its structure. As you can see in pictures below, parts of the stonework have actually fallen off.

July 12, 2011 - 2:23pm

On Sunday, 12 homeowners -- nine from Batavia and three from Corfu -- opened their homes as part of the Landmark Society of Genesee County's "House & Garden Tour," the proceeds of which went toward the restoration of St. James Episcopal Church.

For $20, self-guided tourists travelled to all of these beautiful homegrown gardens and then enjoyed a reception and dessert at St. James in the evening.

Here are some pictures from a few of the gardens:

 

 

November 25, 2010 - 1:45pm

Present Tense Books and Gifts will host a book fair to benefit the St. James Episcopal Church Restoration Fund from Nov. 30 through Dec. 4.

A percentage of purchases made during that period with a voucher will benefit the church. Vouchers may be picked up at the church, located at 405 E. Main St., Batavia, or by calling 343-6802.

They are also available on the bookstore's website: www.presenttensebooks.com.

Present Tense Book and Gift Shop is located at 101 Washington Ave., Batavia.

Hours are: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday; closed on Sunday and Monday.

November 4, 2010 - 3:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, events, St. James Episcopal Church.
Event Date and Time: 
November 14, 2010 -
3:00pm to 4:00pm

There will be an Interdenominational Community Hymn Sing at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 14 at St. James Episcopal Church in Batavia.

Charles C. Bradley Jr. will accompany by playing the organ.

Everyone who loves to sing hymns or just enjoys listening to them is invited. This program will be recorded and CDs will be available for purchase at a later date.

Sheet music and refreshments are provided. Participants are asked for a $5 donation to benefit the St. James' Restoration Fund.

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