St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 1430 J St. (Corner of 15th and J)
Sacramento, Ca 95814
P.O Box 160914
Sacramento, CA 95816
Phone: (916) 446-2620
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is Sacramento’s first church. The church has been known by several names during its history. It was first known as Grace Church, then as St. Paul’s Church, then Christ Church Cathedral, and then as St. Paul’s once again. The congregation first met in a blacksmith’s shop during August of 1849. Rev. Flavel Mines, the Vicar of Trinity Church in San Francisco, the first Episcopal Church west of St. Louis conducted services. This building is the congregation’s third “permanent” home. The first church, built at Eighth and T Streets in 1856, was replaced in 1870 after the city’s streets were raised above the flood level. The second building, in turn, had to be replaced at the turn of the century. A newspaper article from 1901 reports that “old St. Paul’s was condemned none too soon: Bulging walls and rotten supports tell of the structure’s doom.” Ground was broken for the present structure in 1903 and the congregation moved in five years later. During the interim, services were held at First Methodist Church, also on “J” St. The building is a unique example of modern construction techniques and classic styling. The construction is of steel I-beam frame. This construction technique was being developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This type of framing allowed for the proliferation of the modern skyscrapers. The designing architect was Willis Polk, a renowned California architect, who was responsible for many post-earthquake buildings of San Francisco. At the time he was designing the plans for St Paul’s, Mr. Polk was employed as the California representative of the D. H. Burnham and Co., the premier city designer in the United States of that era. The plans for the building were a personal gift from the architect to Rev. C. L. Miele, rector of St Paul’s, who in turn gifted the plans to the parish. The architectural style of the building is a classic Gothic cruciform with elements of Norman and Romanesque design. Although there have been changes throughout the years, the exterior has remained essentially unchanged. Recent interior changes have returned the space to the grand openness of its initial design. The old church was not demolished until many of its greatest treasures were removed for use in the present building. Among these treasures were two of the large stained glass windows – the ones on your right and left as you face the altar. Recent research has confirmed that these two beautiful windows are the work of John Mallon (Pacific Art Glass Works of San Francisco). Mr. Mallon was a prominent artist of the day. As noted in the Sacramento Union of 24 April 1889, “What gives additional interest to the two windows in question…. is the fact that they are the first fine church windows put up in this city, and that both were made in California and by California artists, and prove conclusively the ability of home stained-glass manufacturers and glass-painters to produce works of a very high order.”
Jane Stanford donated the large window on your right in memory of the Stanford’s only son, Leland, Jr. The Stanfords were members of St. Paul’s congregation. The panels depict the life and death of Leland Stanford, Jr. The panel on the right depicts the morning angel carrying the baby Leland to the family’s home. The Stanford mansion is ablaze with lights as Jane Stanford waits inside to give birth to her son. The panel on the left depicts a grieving angel cutting a rose not yet in bloom. At the angel’s feet sits an urn draped with a crepe. A sickle near the urn highlights the symbolism of the cut rose. The central panel depicts the young boy’s guardian angel assisting his entry into Paradise where the souls of the blessed children wait to greet him. The portrait of Leland, Jr. is a true likeness, illustrating Mallon’s skill as a portrait painter, and all three angels bear the same woman’s face. The morning angel has the face of a young woman in her teens; the grieving angel, that same face, prematurely aged, and the guardian angel bears the face of a woman in her prime. In each case, the face is that of Jane Stanford, the boy’s mother. (It might be said that the artist was a little generous in his representation of that lady.) The Stanford’s’ grief at the loss of their only child was devastating. Especially, when one pauses to consider that Governor Stanford would never sell stock in any of his enormous business enterprises – because everything was to pass to Leland, Jr. One begins understand the extent of the parents’ despair. Not only had they lost their only child at the tragically early age of 16, but their dreams of founding a dynasty to perpetuate their political and commercial might died with him. One expert, having examined the Stanford window, wrote as follows: The Stanford Memorial Window with its total of twenty-one individual sections is without a doubt one of the most beautiful stained glass windows existing in the world today. Its composition, design and embellishment are unsurpassed. The total design is reminiscent of the works of the nineteenth century English artist, William Morris. The figure panels are executed with the most painstaking attention to detail. Even upon the closest inspection, words cannot describe their beauty. Each of the panels that make up this window is a work of art in itself, but together their total beauty leaves one completely speechless. This window is unlike any other of its companion panels in St. Paul’s in that it is of an intense emotional nature. It conveys to the fullest the mystery of life, death and the belief in a heavenly afterlife. The viewer of this window can feel both the intense love and sorrow of a mother for her son. The emotional impact of this window is not something that will fade with time; it is eternal. The Stanford window faces another of almost equal magnificence. The Haymond or “St. Cecilia” window was given by Col. Creed Haymond, a business associate of Governor Stanford, as a memorial to his wife, Cornelia Alice Haymond. Mrs. Haymond, who died in childbirth at the tragically early age of 32, was an early organist at St. Paul’s – so the dedication of this window is particularly appropriate. St. Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians and is fabled to be the inventor of the organ, but that is not to be established as a fact. In the central panel, Saint Cecilia is discovered touching with her fingers a single bank of organ keys, while her gaze is upward into a glorious sunlight, that bathes her face with gold-distilled beams bursting from clouds, from which descend a cherubic host hovering over and playing and singing to the martyr saint, their wings tinted as with mother-of-pearl, and their countenances radiant with light and joy. The apex of the central panel is finished by a glittering crown, set with jewels of many colors, while the feet of the patroness of music press a tessellated floor of onyx that is imitated with such nicety as almost to deceive one into belief of its reality. The flanking panels bear in great profusion designs of musical instruments, reed and string, resting against a narrow background beautifully painted in lance, scroll, lozenge, diamond and foliate work and ecclesiastical designs. The window is one of great beauty, probably unsurpassed on the coast for delicacy of tint and richness of color.” The large window above the altar depicts Christ’s Ascension. This window replaces one donated by Mrs. Charles Crocker, the wife of the railroad baron. The Crocker’s were also early members of St. Paul’s. The original window was destroyed by fire in 1915. This central panel of the “Ascension” window was installed in August 1949 on the one hundredth anniversary of the parish. This panel was given in memory of Katherine Wettig and was the work of Harold (Pat) Cummings of the Cummings Stained Glass Studio in San Francisco. The Cummings studio was influential in the mid twentieth century renaissance of art glass. The central panel depicts the Ascension of Christ with eleven apostles gathered around his feet. The apex of the window is composed of panels that depict the authors of the four gospels and additional panels of angels. This central panel was initially surrounded with side panels of orange glass. In 1962 a campaign was undertaken to raise the funds for the completion of the window. The firm that had designed and manufactured the central section, Cummings Stained Glass Studios of San Francisco began to add the side panels in compatible medieval mode. The window is an example of a “teaching window” in which the various panels depict aspects of Christ’s ministry. The upper left panel depicts Christian Education (In memory of John Bonte 1890-1947). The center left panel depicts the Trinity (given by Eleanor Phoebe Sills). The bottom left panel depicts Preaching of the Word (In honor of Robert Mitchell and Jeanne Wylie Mitchell). The upper right panel depicts Healing Ministries (In memory of James Henry Parkinson, MD). The center right panel is the symbol of St Paul and is inscribed with the motto “Spiritus Gladius”. (It was purchased with undesignated from silver tea, and other solicitations). The lower right panel depicts Prayer (In honor of Michael O’Hair and Michael O’ Hair, JR). The smaller windows on the west side of the nave, identified as Faith, Hope and Charity, were commissioned by the vestry after the 1915 fire with insurance funds received for the destruction of the original Crocker memorial window. The smaller memorial windows on the east side of the nave date from the same period. The fire, which destroyed the Crocker window, began in the pipe organ. That instrument was completely destroyed and was replaced by the present organ, a Tracker, built by Johnson & Sons of Westfield, Massachusetts, in 1877. The organ, which was brought here from Williams College of Williamstown, Massachusetts in 1918 was rebuilt in 1963 and 1996. It is one of the oldest organs on the West coast. In 1965, fire struck again, this time destroying the parish hall. At that time, the pews and many other furnishings were removed from the nave so it could be converted to a multipurpose space. St. Paul’s, like many urban churches, declined during the fifties and sixties. In 1967 the parish was reduced to Mission status and title to the property was transferred to the diocese. In 1968, the church was renamed “St. Paul’s Center for Urban Studies and Ministry.” Episcopal Community Services, the social service arm of the diocese, developed from programs started at St. Paul’s Center. Those were colorful times at St. Paul’s. Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead played here once before they became quite so famous! The original venue for a scheduled concert on October 5, 1968, Memorial Auditorium was double booked so the show was moved across the street to St. Paul’s. In 1988, following significant growth in membership and financial strength, and relocation of the Diocesan (ECS) programs, St. Paul’s was restored to Parish status. St. Paul’s is a growing church, attracting members from every part of the Sacramento metropolitan area. The congregation is committed to restoring this beautiful and historic house of worship as a place where local people and visitors alike may seek and find the face of God. We invite you to join us!