Sacred Places Winter 2019 - Page 12

Saint James Place: Rebirthed, Restored, and Renewed by Karen DiLossi Director of Arts in Sacred Places, Partners for Sacred Places O nce the westernmost outpost of the Episcopal Church in America, and not long ago very close to demolition, the former St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Great Barrington, Massachusetts, has now found a new life as Saint James Place, a Cultural Center and Home for the Arts. The 1857-vintage building offers 17,000 square feet of renovated space that breathes with artists, their audiences, and the larger Berkshires community. Exterior of Saint James Place after restoration Photo: Christina Lane Photography 12 SACRED PLACES • WINTER 2019 Great Barrington has seen its fair share of hardship as industry jobs left, compounded by the major recession a decade ago, but its rebirth as a culture-rich town has created an opening for a new center for the arts. Nestled on a prominent corner of Main Street, “the gateway to Great Barrington,” Saint James Place (SJP) has become a landmark of the Western Massachusetts cultural community. St. James Parish was established in 1762 and the current building was its third home. The building is faced with locally quarried dolomite limestone and its pointed arches are filled with beautifully crafted stained glass. In 1911, a parish house was added, complementing the original building with half timbered walls, dormers, and late Gothic windows. The building’s history continues to resonate today. For example, its parishioners supported Union soldiers with Bibles and banners as they departed to fight in the Civil War. During the 1918 influenza epidemic it became a hospital. This fall,