History

DSC_1790Emmanuel Church was founded by Major Russell Sturgis, Jr., in 1882 on land given by him. The church was designed by his brother, John Sturgis, an architect trained in England and a partner in the Boston firm of Sturgis & Brigham. In addition to the good fortune of being designed by a notable architect, Emmanuel was fortunate in its actual builders. The Cape Ann Advertiser of July 1882 reported that Mr. Fred Churchill “had done himself much credit by the thoroughness and dispatch of the work.” Mr. Churchill contracted to build a chapel 26 feet by 45 feet for $2,500. Mr. William J. Pert, who was among the company recruited from Manchester by Major Sturgis for the Massachusetts 45th Regiment, did the interior finish.

The Chapel, designed in the tradition of the Gothic Revival then so popular, originally had a seating capacity of 200, although now it comfortably accommodates between 125 and 150 people. The walls, interior and exterior, were of English cement, containing a special gypsum considered to be especially durable and lasting. The original finish was of hard pine and spruce, although in May 1883, the chancel was changed from pine and spruce to oak, materials used in the Gothic Revival School. Originally, there were three memorial windows: one given by Miss E.S. Perkins for Mrs. Welles (mother of Susan Welles Sturgis, the first wife of Major Sturgis); one for Mary G. Sturgis given by her sons; and one for Mrs. McCulloch by her daughters. The children of Major Sturgis’ first wife, Susan Welles, gave the chancel window over the altar. With all the finishing touches in place, Emmanuel Church was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Henry Paddock on June 13, 1883.

DSC_1784The architectural beauty of the Church was significantly enhanced in 1899, with the addition of four new memorial windows designed by John LaFarge, an artist famous for his stained glass. One, illustrating the story of the Good Samaritan, was dedicated to the memory of Russell Sturgis, Sr. of London, father of Major Sturgis. The other three windows were dedicated, respectively, to the memories of Susan Welles, Abby Sears McCulloch, and Mary Greene.

For over one hundred years, the Church has been administered as a private trust. The indenture provided that the Church and property be vested in three trustees after the death of Major Sturgis. He appointed his sons as successor trustees. When he died in 1899, these sons — William Codman Sturgis, Edward Sturgis, and S. Warren Sturgis — succeeded their father.

Emmanuel has been served by many fine priests over the years. One of our longest serving ministers was the Reverend Rollin J. Fairbanks, who was the church’s minister from 1947 until the early 1980s. ┬áRecently, one of his grandchildren, Jad Davenport, of Denver, Colorado, uncovered a box of Rolly’s original handwritten sermons, and is undertaking a project to organize and scan them into electronic form. ┬áJad’s initial effort was to select a few, and has allowed this to be distributed to those parishioners that might have an interest. You may read them here.