In Wilmington during the 1880’s, the primary industries were duPont Powder Mills and Bancroft Textile Mills. Christ Church in Greenville was the only Episcopal church in the area, but the clergy of Christ Church led cottage meetings in the region of the Highlands. In 1884 five men met to plan an Episcopal church for the Highlands. One of these men was John Bancroft, president of Bancroft Textile Mills and nephew of the founder, Joseph Bancroft. On an 80-by-150 foot lot donated by the Brinckle family, offspring of the first rector of Christ Church, a wooden church was built and consecrated on Advent Sunday, 1884.
The name Immanuel came from Immanuel Church, New Castle, which was founded in 1689 as the first permanent Episcopal Church in Delaware. Miss Eliza Thomas named the chapel. She was a communicant of Immanuel, New Castle and a descendant of George Read, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Miss Thomas lived with the Brinckles and bequeathed $11,000 to the chapel, which began lmmanuel’s Endowment Fund.
The chapel was under the care of Christ Church until 1888, when the Reverend Kensey Johns Hammond became the first rector. In 1913, the Reverend William Henry Laird became rector, and the cornerstone of the present building was laid on October 11, 1914. The Reverend Charles Clash became rector after the Reverend Laird’s death in 1919, and on All Saints’ Day 1926, the first stained glass window was dedicated by Bishop Cook.
On that same day the mortgage was burned and the church consecrated.