St James Episcopal Church
St James Episcopal Church
St. James' Church History
St. James' Church is listed with the National Registry for Historic places
The Parish of St. James’ was established on August 5, 1855 under the leadership of the Reverend Isaac H. Tuttle, D.D. The
first Rector was the Reverend Robert Locke. He and the Reverend H. H. Bates served the Church during the period of 1856 - 1862.
The earliest Anglican worship services in this area were held in Granville, Whitehall and Ticonderoga, by chaplains in the English Army. No record has been found of Anglican chaplains serving at Fort William Henry. Early in the nineteenth century, Philander Chase, an Albany native and a seminarian at the General Theological Seminary in New York, held at least one service in the Lake George area as he traveled to Thurman to set up a summer chapel. Chase later became Bishop of Ohio, then Illinois, and also was the founder of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.
The first continuous Episcopal worship was a gathering of Lake George family and friends on the porch of the Rev. Isaac Tuttle's summer home, Rockledge, in 1852. Mr. Tuttle was a well known New York City priest and rector of St. Luke's parish. In 1855, the services had become established and were moved to the Old Court House (now the Lake George Historical Museum on Canada Street) and the first Parish meeting was held there on the first Sunday evening of August in 1855.
Church members attending that meeting assumed that the parish would be named St. Luke's, but when Mr. Tuttle arrived, after rowing from Rockledge, he described the beauty of the scenery as he rowed and said that all he could think of was the passage from the Epistle of James: "Every good and perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of Lights." And thus, (so the story goes) he asked that the church be called St. James'.
The records then state: " In 1866 the church was blown down by a mighty wind." It appears that the steeple was too weighty for the structure, and when it was rebuilt the next year, it was constructed of stone, and the tower set on the side of the church in English countryside manner. Two years later, property had been bought and a wooden church erected on this present site. The church looked very colonial with a very high steeple directly on top of the roof.
Tuttle Hall was built in 1910 and has been well used for many years by the community for voting, school classrooms, high school dances, and was the only basketball court in town! More recently, it served as a youth center and as an American Youth Hostel location, in addition to its ongoing use for a variety of parish functions and activities.
The first rector was the Rev. Robert Locke, who served until 1862. As of today, St. James' has been served by fourteen rectors. Two notable long-time rectors in Lake George were the Rev. Edward M. Parrott, who served the parish from 1906 until 1921, and then again from 1926 until 1941.
He was followed by the Rev. Ernest Stires, who came to St. James' in 1941 and remained until 1962. Rev. Stires' father, Bishop Stires of Long Island, had come to Lake George to vacation for many years and had a home built in Bolton Landing, (now Lagoon Manor condominiums.) Ernest married Louise Homer, the daughter of Madame Louise Homer of Metropolitan Opera fame. Louise played the organ and directed the choir at St. James' for most of the years that "Ernie" was the rector.
In 1962, the Rev. Perry Porter moved to Lake George with his wife and family to take over as the Rector of St. James'. In the four years that he served, the church flourished. He was deeply committed to our youth and the parish enjoyed a very active Sunday School, a Junior and Senior Choir, and a substantial Sunday attendance.
The Rev. John (Jack) Williams came to St. James’ from Massachusetts in November, 1967, and remained until his retirement in May, 1996. He researched and compiled the first history of St. James’, of which this is an update. It is interesting to note that Rev. Williams’ father followed the Rev. Ernest Stires as Rector of St. Thomas’ Church in Bellerose, Long Island in 1931. Jack will be remembered as being Ecumenical in spirit. He sought to effect throughout the community the love of Christ. He fed the hungry, invited in the stranger, clothed the needy and visited the sick.
Rev. Julie McPartlin, niece of the Rev. Ernest Van R. Stires, was the first woman to be ordained in the Albany Episcopal Diocese by Bishop David Ball in November, 1996. During her term as priest-in-charge and then rector of St. James’, she strove to reverse the decline in attendance. She found new ways to instill her enthusiasm and vision into our congregation. Julie was instrumental in restoring the buildings and property, even going so far as to enter a hoist basket and rise 65 feet into the air to bless the new cross on the steeple.
Walter Sutliff of Hudson Falls crafted both the beautiful Celtic steeple cross, which was dedicated on September 5, 2001 and the new Memorial cross on the roof, dedicated on September 29, 2004. The design matches the cross suspended over the altar, which was designed by Bob Voreyer.
The ministries of the clergy of St. James' Church from the earliest days of the parish have been ably and devotedly assisted and enhanced by a countless number of faithful lay people. It is this shared ministry which has nurtured and sustained St. James' for these many years.
It is with that same collective, community spirit of faithfulness and service that this parish seeks to build up God's Kingdom in the years ahead. May God continue to bestow his blessings upon us!
Robert Locke 1856-1862
Robert Fulton Crary 1863 ~ 1867
John F. Potter 1868
W. H. Harrison 1869-1870
James A. Upjohn 1871-1873
Charles H. Lancaster 1874-1892
E Rurthven Armstrong 1893-1898
Charles William Turner 1898
Henry Lee Gilbert 1899-1904
William H. P. Hatch 1904-1905
Edward Moore Parrott 1906-1921
Robert Masterson 1921-1925
Edward Moore Parrott 1921-1941
Ernest Van R. Stires 1941-1944
Harry S. Campbell 1944-1946
Ernest Van R. Stires 1947-1962
Perry M. Porter 1963-1967
John (Jack) R. Williams 1967-1996
Julie McPartlin 1996-2014
Jean M. DeVaty 2015-Current