Our Founding & Building History

  • In the mid 1830's Rev. Richard Cadle, a Missionary to the Oneida Nation near Green Bay, WI held the first Episcopal service near Manitowoc Rapids, 60 are reported to have attended this service.
  • February 28, 1848 St. James is officially formed and is the first established church in Manitowoc Village. Rev Gustav Unonious, a native of Sweden and one of the first graduates of Nashotah House Seminary,serves as the first priest. Early services were held in the upper level of the Unonious family home and later at a local school.
  • The first church building was a wooden structure that was consecrated July 25, 1854 The church was at the corner of 9th & Chicago St. on land donated by Benjamin Jones. After St. James moved to the current church location, a new congregation, Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Parish bought the wooden building. The wooden building was raised in 1927.
  • The current building at the corner of 8th and State St. was dedicated on July 25, 1902. The building is a replica of a church near Oxford, England. The exterior building features gray dolomitic limestone with lighter Bedford limestone as trim. Inside the sanctuary you will see carved Flemish oak and plaster walls.  The original entrance was on 8th St. at the corner and there was a steeple approximately midway on the roof peak. The steeple was lost to a lightning strike and never replaced.  At the time of the building of the current church, Bishop Grafton of the Diocese of Fond du Lac commissioned a German family of wood carvers to come to the area. The statues of the Crucifixion were carved by the family and more of their work can be seen in other churches throughout the Diocese. The ceiling of the sanctuary is designed to reflect the interior of a ship. The interior height is 48 feet.
  • The round stained glass window depicting the Risen Christ at the rear of the sanctuary was donated by the Rankin Family in 1954 with the original design done in 1933 by Columbia Stained Glass Company of Milwaukee, WI. The chapel altar, found badly damaged in one of the choir lofts, was restored by Wm. and Marian Flint.  The statute of Jesus with the Children was donated by the Johnson family in 2002 with the mural looking out on the Sea of Galilee added in 2012 by Dianne Wilson. 
  • The high altar is crafted from white Vermont marble with four onyx supporting pillars.  The low altar was re-purposed from an walk-up pulpit. There are five wood-burnings (Christ before Pilate, Easter Morning, Angels of Light, The Women at the Fount, Christ Ascending on High) behind the marble altar created between 1902-07 by Mrs. R.K. Paine. The current pipe organ was purchased in 1955 relocating the organ from the east balcony.
  • In 2001 an addition and renovation was undertaken on the current building.  A new entrance with an elevator was added on State St. a new chapel (with a columbarium), accessible restroom and atrium was added on the sanctuary level, along with improvements in office, classroom and fellowship space on the lower level.