Community History – Ludlow – St. James Church

St. James Church

St. James Parish was established in 1886 to serve Ludlow’s English-speaking Catholic population (Irish). In 1887, the parish purchased the Armory Hall on Carneal Street. The building was remodeled to serve as the first parish church. Many of the early parishioners worked for the railroad.

St. James congregation grew quickly. In 1891, the parish purchased the Odd Fellows Hall on Oak Street for $3,500.00. This building housed the first St. James School, which opened in September 1893 with an enrollment of 125. The teachers were the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. 1893 also marked the purchase of the Cassidy home on Oak Street for use as a rectory.

The Reverend Thomas N. Kehoe led the parish from 1894-1921. Under Father Kehoe’s guidance, the parish flourished. By 1900, the congregation claimed a membership of 450.

A new St. James Church was constructed in 1903-04 on Oak Street. The structure, dedicated on October 9, 1904, cost over $20,000.00 to construct. A new school building was constructed in 1911-1912. Both buildings were designed by architect Walter Sheblessy.

In 1922, a new rectory was constructed at the northwest corner of Oak and Davies Streets. At this time, the old rectory became the home of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth who taught in the parish school.

In 1928, The Reverend Clement Bocklage established St. James High School. The high school program was housed in a small two-room addition to the church and on the first floor of the rectory. Originally, the high school was taught by laypersons. Ruth Kelley held the position of principal of the school for many years. By 1935, St. James High School enrollment reached 100. In 1942, the Sisters of Charity assumed responsibility for the high school. The high school closed following the 1947-1948 school year.

In 1967, diocesan officials merged St. Boniface and St. James Schools. During its first year of existence, St. James-St. Boniface School enrolled 267 with a faculty consisting of five Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and four lay teachers. For a few years, both school buildings were used. However, in 1971, the entire school

(Grades 1-8) was housed exclusively in the former St. James School building.

In 1980, Bishop William A. Hughes announced the merger of St. Boniface and St. James Churches in Ludlow. The St. James Parish facilities were used by the new congregation, which was named Sts. Boniface and James Church.

Schroeder, David E., United in Faith: A History of the Catholic Church in Ludlow, Kentucky, 1872-1897.

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