Art & Architecture
The first St. James Church building was a small frame Gothic revival structure, built on the present site in 1845-6. A larger building was needed by the 1880s to accommodate an expanding congregation.
The present Gothic revival-style structure was completed in 1895 based upon the design of New Orleans architect W.L. Stephens, Sr., and built by W.H. Miller, contractor.
The exterior of the cruciform church is constructed oflocally-made soft pink brick and brownstone with terra cotta decorations. The cypress and pine interior is distinguished by its hammer beam ceiling, a rare feature in Louisiana architecture.
The most noteworthy decorative features of the interior are the three windows over the altar made by the Tiffany Studios, New York, in 1909-10, and dedicated to the memory of Eleanor Garig Connell and Elvira Dougherty Garig on Easter Sunday, 1910. The central window features the Angel of the Resurrection with Easter lilies. The heavenly city is seen above the angel’s head. The flanking windows depict the Garden of Gethsemane. The Easter lilies in the center and right panels are particularly noteworthy. See our page about all the windows in St. James Episcopal Church.
The numbers appearing on the ends of the pews date from the early times with a pew rent was charged. In 1874 this practice was discontinued.
The three-manual Schlicker pipe organ was installed in 1975. It currently has 43 ranks and the action is electro/pneumatic.
Originally the St. James Church nave had simple, non-representational windows. After World War II, memorial windows were commissioned from the Jacoby Art Glass Company of St. Louis. The completed windows were dedicated on May 9, 1948. Each window depicts an important event in the Gospel, starting with the nativity representation in the north transept. Moving counter-clockwise to the rear, the lancet windows depict the boy Jesus teaching in the temple, the baptism of Jesus, and Jesus healing the sick.
Continuing counter-clockwise with the lancet windows on the south side of the nave, we find the Transfiguration, the Good Shepherd, and Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. The south transept window depicts the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem. A single rose window is located above each of the transept windows: the Agnus Dei is shown in the south, while an open Bible emblazoned with the Greek alpha and omega appears above the nativity window. Some of these windows are dedicated to World War II veterans and deceased children of the parish. At the west end of the church, above the organ’s horizontal trumpet, is a double lancet window depicting the Ascension of Christ.
A 1995 line-drawing study and coloring book has been reissued with photographs of the windows by Fred C. Frey, III. It is available online featuring color photographs, with text by Lynn Schlossberger, as Windows to the Kingdom.
The Chapel of the Twelve Apostles features a box bay window depicting the symbols for each of Christ's apostles. Photos and explanation of the symbols can be found in Windows of the Saints.
The newest building on campus, Bishops Hall, has also had stained glass windows installed in the narthex windows as the gift of Charles H. Coates, Jr., given to the glory of God and in memory of his grandmother, Ollie Maurin Coates. Photos of the Jesus with Children windows and descriptions are available here.
One of the most touching memorials in the church is the granite baptismal font located in the northern transept. The Eastlake-style font is a memorial to Major Thomas Williams of the Fifth U.S. Artillery who was killed in the Battle of Baton Rouge on August 5, 1862. He had attended worship services at St. James the Sunday before his death. The font was donated by the Major’s son and dedicated in October 1887.
The Celtic cross in the Memorial Garden immediately north of the church was a long-term project following completion of the new Parish Hall building in 1967. Parishioner Lew Barnum proposed the design with photos of historical Celtic crosses brought from a trip to England. Parishioner Warren Green made the stonemason’s working drawings based on those photos. The cross was dedicated about 1980 with the inscription, “To those in whose Memory this Cross was raised, and to all faithful people, Pardon and Peace.”
A carved wooden angel executed by an unknown sculptor greets those who enter the Ministries Center. It was donated as a memorial to William Garig who died in 1903.
The chancel and sanctuary carvings are also artistic treasures of the church. The Art Nouveau-style carvings set within the Gothic revival lancets were executed largely by the Rev. J.L. Tucker between 1900 and 1906. His son, the Rev. Louis Tucker (who became rector upon his father’s death), completed the last three panels between 1906 and 1909.
Carvings for the panels behind the choir stalls and to the chancel steps were begun by parishioners in 2007 and dedicated on the Feast of St. James (the 25th of July) 2010.
Visit the Chancel Carvings page with photos and descriptions.
The needlepoint kneeling cushions were designed by Lauren Cunningham Tucker to depict the sacraments. The cushions at the altar rail were stitched by parishioners and dedicated in 1987. In an ongoing project, seat and back covers for the sanctuary chairs and prie dieu continue to be worked on by parish volunteers. Several pieces were dedicated on St. James Day, 2010.
Read more about them, with color photographs, on the Needlepoint Art page.
This historic church ever seeks to be a house of prayer for all people and a sanctuary to all who would find God here.