In April 1825, nearly ninety contributors donated towards the construction of an "Episcopal" Church in Maitland. The list of names included people well known in the history of Maitland and the community. George Longley, a principal contributor to the building fund, gave an acre of land for the church site.
Arthur McClean, a Brockville building designer, was paid three pounds, for a plan for St. James. Local tradesmen including John Shepherd, a stonemason, and James Howard, a carpenter, commenced construction of St. James Church in 1825. Designed to be functional, but also to impress passers-by, the basic Georgian design of St. James is decorated with gothic battlements. As well, the front and street side of the exterior walls are built of hammered stone, while the two less visible exterior walls are covered in rough cast.
The original interior design of the nave provided for 38 box pews, with doors. Minus their doors, only two of these pews survive today. Until 1860, all 38 pews were deeded/leased to private pew holders and yielded an income for the church. With the introduction of central heating, the box pew doors were removed in 1888, and benches, which still exist today, were made from these doors for free seating in the balcony.
Stained glass transoms decorate both entrances to St. James Church. For many years, ten medallion stained glass windows provided daylight to the nave and balcony. With the passage of time three of these have been replaced with memorial windows. At the liturgical east end above the altar, the chancel window, depicting Jesus as The Good Shepherd, was designed by the Horwood Studios of Prescott and Ogdensburg. This window was dedicated in 1911, in memory of Andrew Jones, a son of Dunham Jones, one of the first churchwardens. Horwood also designed a stained glass window for the Blue Church of Prescott. At church anniversary services, held in subsequent years, the "Gethsemane" window and the "Light of the World" window were dedicated, in memory of members of the Dumbrille family.
Regular services began at St. James, in the fall of 1827, with The Rev. Robert Blakey being the first rector of the Parish of Augusta and Edwardsburg. St. James Anglican Church was dedicated in August 1830, during a visit to this parish, by Bishop Charles James Stewart of Quebec.
In 1927, after nearly 75 years of church services, Maitland's Wesleyan Methodist congregation sold their 1854 church, on the east side of Church Street, to St. James for use as a parish hall.
In 1899, a burial vault was built in St. James Cemetery, for the interment of the second rector, The Rev. Richard Lewis and members of his family. Cemetery stones in this beautiful old cemetery are a testament to the many families who have contributed to the history of Maitland and the surrounding community. A few stones, such as that of Margaret Arnold, daughter-in-law of Benedict Arnold, of American Revolution fame; Ruth Longley, wife of George Longley, and Aza Kulikovsky, daughter-in-law of the last Grand Duchess Olga, of Russia, sister of Czar Nicholas II, mark the burial place of some of the people, whose families played a prominent role in world history.
Beautifully furnished and carefully maintained, St. James Church has continued for 190 years as a monument to Christian values and beliefs. On Sunday April 17, 2016 in conjunction with The Rev. Tracey Lloyd Smith and The Rev. Dr. David Smith, the congregation of St. James Church, Maitland was honoured to celebrate this continued tradition, in the presence of The Most Rev. F.J. Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
||Window dedicated in 1912. Created by Horwood Studios of Prescott and Ogdensburg. Harry Horwood and his son created windows in Prescott, Ottawa and throughout northern New York state. With death of the Horwoods,
the studio closed in 1947.
By Richard M. Dumbrille
Richard Dumbrille is well known in the region for his passion for preserving local history. In 1985 he co-author with Stephen Otto, a popular history, “Maitland: ‘A Very Neat Village Indeed.’” He has been recognized for his work with many awards, including the 2011 Doers and Dreamers Award for helping to preserve and restore more than two dozen historic buildings in Augusta Township and the small town of Maitland.