In 1890, a small group of worshippers started meeting, as St. Andrews Mission, in the community which would become South Pasadena, with lay readers from All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, and later visiting clergy, conducting Sunday services.
In 1905 a temporary church building was erected at Fremont Avenue and Monterey Road on a site purchased by Mrs. Caroline Dobbins, and construction was begun on the present church building. It was designed by the renowned architectural firm of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson of Boston and New York. Mr. Goodhue was the chief architect. (He also designed the Los Angeles Main Library and buildings at Cal Tech, among many other notable buildings.) Native granite was quarried in the Arroyo Seco. Although the church was built in phases, the entire design was completed at one time.
The name of the mission was changed to St. James’ in 1907, and the newly constructed church was dedicated on May 19, 1907, by Bishop Joseph Horsfall Johnson.
The beautiful stained glass windows of St. James’ were designed and made by Judson Studios (still located in Highland Park and world-renowned for their stained glass windows). The Rose Window at the rear of the church was installed in 1907; the remainder between 1950 and 1963.
The parish hall was built in 1932 and the education building in 1958.
St. James’ Parish Day School was started in 1968 and currently has 160 students, from 2 1/2 years through kindergarten.
In May, 1987, St. James’ was designated Historical Landmark No. 33 by the Cultural Heritage Commission.
The Whittier earthquake of Oct. 1, 1987, caused extensive damage to the tower and church building. Along with necessary repairs, the building was retrofitted to meet earthquake protection standards.
The St. James’ Youth Center was started in 1996. It is an after-school program for middle school age children of the community. It includes homework help, sports, arts and crafts, and other activities.
All through the years, St. James’, “The Episcopal Church in South Pasadena,” has been an active, welcoming parish, serving its members and reaching out to the community and beyond.