St. James’ history is a long and rich one. Episcopal services were first held in Goshen in 1793. Ten years later, on July 25, 1803, a group of people formed the corporation of St. James’ Church, which was then admitted into the Episcopal Diocese of New York headed by its first Bishop, The Right Reverend Samuel Provost. The first wood frame church was built around 1804 on land donated by the family of Dr. John Gale.
In 1850 the Vestry resolved to build a new Church to represent the architectural tastes of the day for solid and substantial public buildings. The Vestry sought the architectural services of New York architects Frank Wills and Henry Dudley. Frank Wills was a leading figure in the Gothic Revival Movement, which had begun in England in the 1830’s. At the time that the plans were drawn up, Wills was firmly associated with the Ecclesiastical Society, centered at The General Theological Seminary in New York City. The guiding principles of the society were to promote the 14th century rural English Gothic Church as the ideal model for American Church Architecture. St. James’ fits this model exactly. The church is an altar-centered worship space with an elevated and recessed sanctuary, Gothic arches, wall buttresses and a steeply pitched slate roof. St James’ flat topped tower is typical of English country churches. The stained glass windows represent a diversity of styles, periods and makers.
The present church of stone in the English Gothic country style built in 1853 has been in continuous use for over 150 years. In addition to the church, a Chapel of matching stone was built in 1869,presumably for winter and weekday services. In 1890 it was de-consecrated as a Chapel for Sunday School use. For many years it served as a Parish Hall until a new addition was added in 1961.
The Parish House, blessed in February 1961 by the Right Reverend Charles F. Boynton, Suffragan Bishop of New York, contains a meeting hall, kitchen, two classrooms, the parish office, a common room, and the Rector’s office. It is connected to the church proper at each side of the rear of the church and surrounds a cloister garden, which provides a columbarium.
On December 27, 2002, a fire broke out in the Nursery Room of the 1869 Chapel building. The Goshen Fire Department quickly extinguished the fire and thankfully saved the rest of the church building. It was determined that the probable cause of the fire was old and out of date wiring. The Parish has restored the Chapel which is once again a worship space.