St. James Roman Catholic Church was the third oldest Catholic church in Newark. In 1854, Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley officiated at the dedication of the first church of Saint James the Less a simple 40×80 brick structure. From that modest beginning the church, hospital ,school, convent and rectory of Saint James the Less came to occupy the whole block bounded by Lafayette, Jefferson, Madison and Elm Streets. The magnificent Belleville brownstone church, built in the Gothic style, was dedicated in June 17, 1866. The brownstone, in spite of the Belleville brownstone appellation, was actually mined in the old 8th Avenue quarries in Newark. A 250 foot bell tower, which was visible for miles, was a splendid addition to Newark’s skyline.
For the 1200 students that attended Saint James’ school tuition was free. The elementary school was established early in the life of the parish. Later a high school was added. Saint James Hospital opened in 1896.
The book featured in this blog was published to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the church building. By 1966, the hospital , school and convent all had new homes. The church and rectory were the sole remnants of the older complex.
The archdiocese , citing escalating maintenance cost, demolished the church in 1979, to create parking for the hospital. That was a sad day for preservation in Newark.
I have included many photos depicting the day to day activities of the parish. In them the architectural splendor of the church provides a magnificent setting for the activities of the devout. The marble, stained glass , metalwork and the decorative plaster were probably the best in Newark. That this church was destroyed as late as 1979 leaves me shaking my head.