Saint James Episcopal Church
Location Name: Saint James Episcopal Church (Rural - Wayne County; Grosse Ile Township, Michigan)
Location Type: Church (Episcopal)
Year Completed: 1868
Architect(s): Gordon W. Lloyd
Saint James Parish’s history begins with the story of Elisabeth (Lisette) Denison Forth. Forth was born a slave in 1786, but crossed into Canada to establish residency and gain her freedom. In 1831, Forth joined the household staff of John Biddle, a political figure notable for his positions as Detroit Mayor and Michigan Territorial Delegate to Congress. A religious woman, Forth built up a savings and upon her death in 1866 she willed about $3,000 of her estate towards the construction of a church. John Biddle’s son William supplemented Forth’s contribution and another son, James, donated the land on Grosse Ile where the church was to be built.
Noted church architect Gordon W. Lloyd was chosen to build the Carpenter Gothic frame structure, and Saint James was consecrated in July 1868. The most brilliant feature of the church is the large stained glass window by Tiffany Studios that was installed in 1898, donated by a grandson of John Biddle. In 1958, a larger church was completed next door to the original building. Today the new church is used for most services, while the historic structure built through the generosity of Mrs. Forth is still used for smaller services and ceremonies.
Saint James Episcopal Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.Sources