St. James-the-Less Episcopal Church

Address: 3227 W Clearfield St, Philadelphia, PA 19132

Neighborhood: Allegheny West


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Contact: 215-226-1276

Description: This is the first example of a stylistically pure English parish church in America. Its plans, based on the 13th-century Cambridgeshire church of Saint Michael’s, Long Stanton, were provided by the English Ecclesiological Society (the Cambridge Camden Society), whose mission was to spread the Gothic architectural gospel to the New World. Robert Ralston, wealthy landowner and merchant, was the major contributor to the church, which was consecrated in 1850. As he and his British cohorts had hoped, the church did indeed have a profound influence on the Gothic Revival in America.

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  • First in the nation – Philadelphia’s “firsts”
  • Architecture and design – iconic, famous, or representative
  • Celebrating diversity – African American, women, and minority stories
  • Faith and ideals – religion, philosophy, political ideology

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