Michael O. Bourne
St. James' Church
3100, Monkton Road, Monkton, Baltimore County
St. James’ Church, constructed in 1755, is a brick church originally consisting of a rectangular structure with a semicircular apse in the east end. Less than a decade later (1759-1762) the congregation enlarged it to a T shape with the addition of what is now the nave to the south façade of the original structure. A narrow rectangular addition to the center of the north façade was made in 1905 to accommodate the altar. The bell tower at the southern end of the stem of the T dates from 1884. Each of the semicircular headed windows contains religious scenes executed in stained glass. The transept which measures 60 by 30 feet was constructed of brick laid in Flemish bond. Dark headers appear regularly beneath the ogee shaped water table. Flanking the door on the western end are two decorative diamond patterns worked into the wall in dark headers. The pattern, although smaller in size, is repeated on the south elevation flanking the two windows. The semicircular apse at the east end, now the sacristy, covers the central half of the east elevation. The two round headed windows, in contrast to the rest of the structure, do not have stained glass. The windowless west end contains a door with a plaque above which gives the dates of the transept (1755) and the nave (1759-1762). The 1905 extension in the central bay of the south façade, was constructed in all stretcher bond. A round-headed window shorter than the others is located in the center under the gable roof. The nave which extends to the south follows the construction of the transept, although no dark headers appear in the brickwork. A three story tower in common bond terminates the nave. The principal entrance on the south elevation consists of a double door under a semicircular fanlight. The three exposed faces each contain one round-headed window in the second story. The third story is an open belfry defined by one brick arch on each face which extends down through the second floor. The tower has a low pitched pyramidal roof with a cross finial. On the interior, the church has a vaulted ceiling, box pews, and a herringbone patterned floor. Iron tie-bars extend across the interior in several places. A cemetery enclosed by a stone wall surrounds the church.
St. James’ Church is a vernacular interpretation of Georgian ecclesiastical architecture. The rationalist, preaching-oriented trend in the 18th century Anglican church encouraged an open, well lighted, meeting room approach to ecclesiastical building as illustrated in St. James’ Church. This contrasted with the mysterious, dark, High Church approach in Gothic architecture. Architectural elements found at St. James’--round headed windows, box pews, lack of ornamentation, vaulted ceiling--typify the architecture of the established church in the colonies. Two hundred years later, St. James’ retains the 18th century feeling and fabric.