In 1901, Most Reverend William G. McCloskey, Bishop of Louisville, decided to start a new parish on Edenside Avenue to meet the needs of a great num-ber of Catholics in the Highlands area. The first pastor was Rev. E. Earle Wil-lett, appointed just four days before the First Mass on September 7, 1906. Father Willett, who would travel the parish on foot and visit families on their front porches, served as the pastor of St. James for 48 years.
As the parish outgrew the original, small frame structure, a prominent local architect, James J. Gaffney, was engaged to design a new church. Construc-tion began on May 23, 1912 and the cornerstone for the new church was blessed on September 22, 1912.
St. James opened the doors to the new church on December 21, 1913. The church, with its distinctive orange glazed brick exterior, red clay Spanish tiled roof, 122 foot bell tower and 80 foot dome, has now stood as a Highlands landmark for a Century. At least as well-known as the sight of the colorful church, is its beautiful and unique sound. The 2,200 pound, bronze casted, church bell has rung out over the Highlands for one-hundred years, calling parishioners to Mass, celebrating weddings and funerals.
In 2006, St. James completed a renovation program that restored the church’s interior to its former glory. St. James Church, Rectory and School are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The rectory was built in 1928 and ready for occupancy in January 1929. Plans for the rectory were drawn by the ever faithful and imaginative Mr. Gaffney in a style impressively complemented by the church and school.
Under the leadership of Rev. Donald R. Goetz in 1994, St. James joined St. Brigid, Louisville, in a two-parish cluster. This relationship has only strength-ened the St. James parish community, as they unite with St. Brigid in parish outreach, school support, and regular joint meetings of the Parish Councils of both parishes. The two parishes collaborate on several outreach programs, including the St. Vincent De Paul Society, Highlands Community Ministries and Habitat for Humanity.
In June of 2012, Rev. Anthony Olges became the pastor to St. Brigid and St.James. In June of 2014, Fr. Tony retired and our new pastor, Rev. Gary Padgett, was welcomed into our communities.
Newcomers who join the parish, as well as visitors are struck by the unique beauty of the church and by the friendliness and acceptance of the people who make up the parish community.
Come and take a photo tour of St. James Church!! Photos and script prepared by Bob Van Bruggen – St.James parishioner
Click Here for Slide Show