Thursday Doors – St. James Episcopal Church

St James
St James Episcopal Church

Two weeks ago, when we were celebrating our long-time coworker’s retirement, I took note of the side of Glastonbury, Connecticut that I don’t normally drive through. As you might expect, I was paying attention to doors. About ½ mile north of the Connecticut River Valley Inn, is St. James Episcopal Church. It caught my attention for two reasons. One, stone. Do I need to say more? I love stone buildings. The second reason was that the doors appeared to have an interesting decorative element on their panels.

I went back to visit the church the following week. I took some pictures and later that evening, I visited their website. Most of the churches I’ve featured have an “Our History” page on their site.

Not this one.

In fact, of all the churches I’ve featured, this one had the least amount of information available. I was able to determine that the church was founded in 1857. The cornerstone was laid on April 25, 1859. If that seems like it must be a mistake, it’s not. Churches were frequently formed before a congregation had enough money to build a building. Typically, they would meet in homes or businesses, or town buildings, until their own facility was far enough along to hold services. Like a few of the churches I’ve researched, it survived a devastating fire in 1904 that gutted the interior.

The congregation rebuilt the interior and the church has been serving the community ever since. They replaced the Parish Hall in 1956. While they probably couldn’t afford to continue using stone, I really like the way they designed the new building to pay respect to the old. I think it’s one of the nicest marriages of old and new that I’ve seen. The new two-level attached building houses the church offices, classrooms, and a 1,750 sf parish hall with kitchen, library, and meeting room. The church was enlarged in 1965, increasing the seating capacity to 240 people.

Ironically, my first attraction to this church, the fact that it’s built from stone, is a bit of an illusion. The church is built from wood and bricks, with a brownstone facing. The brownstone was quarried about 15 miles south in Portland, CT and transported to the building site by river barge and oxen. I think you will agree, they did a very nice job.

This church has a connection to another Episcopal church, one that I’ve been to and one that I hope to feature on Thursday Doors in the not too distant future.

As for that interesting decoration on the doors, I can’t tell for sure if it’s an “upside down cross” – which would make more sense if it was St. Peter’s Church – or something else of significance. I’ve searched for images of similar doors, but found none. If anybody knows, please leave a comment.

Thursday Doors in a fun and interesting series, organized and promoted by Norm Frampton. If you want to join us, simply visit Norm’s website. There, you will find a blue links thing that will take you to see the other doors and give you a chance to share a door of your own. Thursday Doors can be posted until noon on Saturday.

53 thoughts on “Thursday Doors – St. James Episcopal Church

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  1. Beautiful church with your intelligent imprint or stamp upon the article! Nicely written, Dan.
    Lately, I have been disappointed to not find my history lessons on different buildings, Dan. The German Village church with red steps didn’t explain about the overhang renovation which left questions unanswered.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Robin. I think history is important, and I wish more historic buildings would be written up. At some point, someone will want to add this to the Historic Register, and it will be harder without the history. Maybe they have it and just aren’t sharing it. That would also be sad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The new church addition does really blend in with the original gorgeous stone masonry style. I hope it will make the Connecticut registry and have a sign with its recognition details. Delaware, Ohio has many brown metal signs with brass or gold lettering. Not sure if states differ on the designs?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Mostly what I’ve seen around here is the little blue oval of the National Registry. I don’t know if CT has one. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I like this church.


  2. Gorgeous, gorgeous church! I love the photo from the side, the mixing of the stone overlay and brick and the beautiful windows. It would be interesting to see the inside of the church, the details of the pews (or seating), the windows, walls, and all of the wood details. I imagine it to be lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice set of doors, Dan. It’s funny — I don’t like the IDEA of using different-sized stones to build a wall (probably bugs my OCD side), but I usually like the look of the final result, at least in these old churches. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s a lovely and interesting building. At first I didn’t pay any attention to the designs on the doors, then you mentioned is, and got my curiosity bubbling. I didn’t turn anything up though, Googling. It seems unlikely, but maybe it’s just a design, as “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Nah — I don’t think so either. ;)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. No matter where we go, I am always looking for old churches. They just do not build them like that any more. Our local newspaper showcased a synagogue that had been redone–it is so ultramodern, you would not even know what the building was.
    The Chapel of St Michael is most interesting. Nice post, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful indeed! They did marry the additions well, with repeated details. I love the facing with the red doors. So dark and dramatic!
    The design on the door reminds me of Catholic stuff, particularly the thing about unity with the Pope, much like the priests wear on their collars. I forget all the words, having not used them so long. Maybe that’s part of why Episcopals are so often referred to as Catholic-light?
    It’s a shame there wasn’t much info available.
    Anyway, Great Doors! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – They did a great job on extending the building. I’m still trying to figure out the details. If I drive by when they’re “open” I might just go in and ask. I also like how the doors are framed by the stone entrances.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The little door is actually my favorite. I didn’t get the best photo, but the narrow window next to it is also very cool. They really worked hard to make it pretty, while saving some money – very much a New England thing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. I love that little window. I’m really glad that I walked around the whole building to discover that. I was really impressed with the new portion, that they took the time to make it blend.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. There is so much to like about this building. Top of the list is the square tower. It reminds me of an old Norman-style castle. Normally I prefer rounded towers, but this one really works … especially with the blending of the arched windows along the side.
    I agree with you – I think they did a wonderful job incorporating the style of the old with the new.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Now this is a wonderful looking, church, Dan. You’re so right — there’s something inherently beautiful about a stone building. I adore all those skinny arched windows. It’s a really nice gothic detail. And that is interesting ornamentation on the doors. I can’t QUITE make it out as well as I’d like, but knowing a little about symbolism, if I was going to offer any sort of opinion on this based on what it looks like to me, I’d suggest the possibility that it’s meant to be two myrtle branches supporting three fruit (most likely a type of lemon). Religions often share a lot of symbolism, so here’s a little excerpt about Jewish representation that might explain the origin of this decoration:

    “In Jewish liturgy, it is one of the four sacred plants of the Feast of Tabernacles representing the different types of personality making up the community – the myrtle having fragrance but not pleasant taste, represents those who have good deeds to their credit despite not having knowledge from Torah study. Three branches are held by the worshippers along with a citron, a palm leaf, and two willow branches. In Jewish temple worship, the myrtle represents the male, masculine force at work in the universe. For this reason myrtle branches were sometimes given the bridegroom as he entered the nuptial chamber after a wedding.”

    So I suppose it would make sense to put myrtle and citron symbols on a church door, perhaps suggesting the idea of the church and community upholding the message of the Trinity (the three fruit)?

    Who’s to say for sure, but it’s a thought!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful!! I do love the way the church’s brownstone was arranged. Awesome photos, Dan, as always!! And I appreciate the history lesson relating to my old stomping ground, Glastonbury. Sometimes I drive down Main Street and head into South Glastonbury and then into Portland as a scenic drive to Rte. 9 instead of I-91. The old homes and farms are breath-taking – I can’t think of a prettier town!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m sort of addicted to your Thursday Doors because I get a weekly dose of history with some great pictures of buildings that have great architecture. This month was super hectic mainly because of my laptop issues, but I am trying to cover up reading all your posts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate your time Sharukh and I like that you enjoy these. You can skip some when you’re busy, I wouldn’t be offended. I’m glad you ‘re back online though :)


      1. Most of your posts are like my bedtime stories. I read them when I’m about to sleep, so they’re the last thing I read. Do warn me when you’re writing any horror ones. Few nights ago, I read a post by Mary on chocolate and I was like – I want a chocolate right now. Finally, I had no choice but to douse my temptation with a glass of cold water.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha ha – I don’t think I’ll be writing horror, but you better watch out for Peter’s stuff :)

          If I read your travel stuff before bed, I will dream about traveling. I had the same reaction to Mary’s post – I doused it with chocolate.

          Liked by 1 person

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