Trinity Church is one of the oldest churches in the United States.
The city of New York was just beginning to flourish in 1697 when
Trinity Church received its founding charter. This charter was
issued in the name of King William III in response to the Anglican
colonists' eagerness to build a church to call their own. The
Church was to function in accordance with the Church of England,
and an annual rent of one peppercorne was required to the crown.
- The original Trinity Church finished construction in 1698
and appeared modest in design. Unfortunately, this first church
was destroyed in 1776 by a massive fire stemming from an American
- The church was built anew in 1790, but like its predecessor,
it did not stay standing long. Heavy snows from the harsh winters
of 1838-1839 weakened the church's structure and it was inevitably
- The third and present building of Trinity Church was completed
and consecrated in 1846.
The Third Church - A Neo-Gothic Masterpiece
The brilliant architect in charge of its design was Richard Upjohn,
founder of the American Institute of Architects.
Upjohn designed the Church in a Neo-Gothic fashion complete with
sandstone and stained-glass windows, two features previously unheard
of at the time. Upjohn's designe reflected a "High Church"
fashion with holy images that appeared glamorous to the eye. The
contemporaryt Protestant "Low Church" people disapproved
of this style because they were used to simple designs in churches
- Upjohn's design seemed all too flashy. To pacify their sentiment,
Upjohn left the designs along the two main side walls simple and
very basic in appearance.
At the time the Church was built, its 281 foot spire and cross
stood as the highest point in New York City.
Gothic Architecture at Trinity
Medieval Gothic architecture is represented in abundance by many
of the exterior designs of the Church. The beautiful sandstone
face of the Church is adorned with a Gothic spires and pointed
arches. Overall, the exterior is very linear in design with emphasis
on the vertical lines giving the impression that everything is
pointing upward. The highest point of the structure is marked
by a Gothic cross. The one curious aspect of the predominantly
Gothic architecture is that there are no flying buttresses. Unlike
most Gothic structures, there are no elaborate supports extending
from either side of the Church.
The heavy bronze front doors to the Church present a fine example
of Gothic flamboyance -- an elaborate designs of religious figures
and ceremonies can be seen on it.
|The interior of the Church is Gothic in design as well.
Stained-glass windows can be seen from the sides of the Church all the way to the front. The most remarkable of these stained-glass windows is the chancel window towering above the altar. (picture 2) This brilliant design resembles a Gothic pointed arch and depicts Jesus, St. Peter, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, St. John, and St. Paul in a dazzling array of colors. Many other religious figures are depicted in this window, including representations of the Trinity and the Eucharist.
||The Altar Reredos
The altar beneath this window contains many Gothic-like lines which are high and pointed. Numerous reredos depicting several religious figures are enclosed in the altar.
The vault ribs seen along both sides of the Church's walls conform to typical Gothic architecture. Throughout different parts of the Church, numerous religious figures are represented by statues and memorial, including the cenotaph of Rt. Rev. Benjamin T. Onderank in the North Monument Room. (inset picture 4) Rev. Onderank was the fourth (Episcopalian) Bishop of New York and is buried in the Trinity Church Cemetery located on Broadway and 155th Street. Overall, almost every aspect of the Church's interior is a testimony to Gothic architecture.
Church stands as a representation of religious piety and devotion
amidst one of the largest business districts in America. The Church
has truly survived the test of time and has remained virtually
unchanged in a city where change is a constant. Besides serving
predominantly as an Episcopalian place of worship, Trinity Church
also provides thousands of business people with a quiet place
for meditation and worship among their busy lives.
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