Boston – Back Bay: Trinity Church and Copley Square
Image by wallyg
Trinity Church is a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. The congregation was originally founded in 1733. The current Church building was erected after its former site burned in the Great Boston Fire of 1872, under the direction of Rector Phillips Brooks.
The building was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson and designed and built from 1872 to 1877, when it was consecrated. Trinity Church is the building that established Richardson’s reputation and the birthplace of the "Richardson Romanesque" style, characterized by a clay roof, polychromy, rough stone, heavy arches, and a massive tower. This style was soon adopted for a number of public buildings across the United States, and is the first American architectural style imitated in Europe and Canada. It is the only church in the United States, and the only building in Boston, that has been honored as one of the 10 most significant buildings in the United States by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In 1885 it was voted the most important building in America by architects, and over a century later the AIA still lists the Church among the top 10 American buildings, making it the only building to remain on the original list.
The building’s plan is a modified Greek Cross with four arms extending outwards from the central tower, which stands 211 ft tall. Situated in Copley Square next to the John Hancock Tower in Back Bay, which was originally a mud flat, Trinity rests on some 4500 wooden piles, each driven through 30 feet of gravel fill, silt, and clay, and constantly wetted by a pump so they do not rot if exposed to air.
Its interior murals, which cover over 21,500 square feet were completed entirely by American artists. Richardson and Brooks decided that a richly colored interior was essential and turned to an at the time unknown John La Farge. The Church’s windows were originally clear glass at consecration but later adorned. Four windows were designed by Edward Burne-Jones and executed by William Morris. Another four windows were done by La Farge, who used a revolutionary style of layering opalescent glass.
In 2007, Trinity Church was ranked #25 on the AIA 150 America’s Favorite Architecture list.
Trinity Church National Register #70000733 (1970)