NYC – Financial District: Trinity Church

NYC – Financial District: Trinity Church
trinity church
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Prominently located at the terminus of Wall Street, the present day Trinity Church, designed by architect Richard Upjohn, is considered a classic example of Gothic Revival architecture. Consecrated on Ascension Day May 1, 1846, it is the oldest Episcopal church in New York City. At the time of its completion, the 281-foot spire was the highest point in New York until being surpassed in 1890 by the New York World Building.

The first Trinity Church, constructed in 1698, was destroyed in the Great New York City Fire of 1776 following the capture of the city by the British in the Battle of Long Island. In 1784, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Provoost, was appointed Rector of Trinity (1784-1800) and the New York State Legislature ratifies the charter of Trinity Church, removing a provision that asserted its loyalty to the King of England.

Construction on the second Trinity Church building began in 1788; it was consecrated in 1790. The structure was torn down after being weakened by severe snows during the winter of 1838–39.

In 1843, Trinity Church’s expanding parish was divided due to the burgeoning cityscape and to better serve the needs of its parishoners. The newly formed parish would build Grace Church, to the north on Broadway at 10th street, while original parish would re-build the Trinity Church that stands today. Both Grace and Trinity Churches were completed and consecrated in 1846.

Upjohn designed the new Church in Neo-Gothic fashion, complete with sandstone and stained-glass windows–two features unheard of at the time. Adorned with Gothic spires and pointed arches, and sporting a very linear upward-appearing exterior, Upjohn’s design reflected "High Church" fashion, at odds with contemporary Protestant "Low Church" thought. As a compromise, the side walls were kept simple, wtihout the flying buttresses predominant in most Gothic structures. No such compromise was made with regards to the flamboyant Gothic heavy bronze front doors, however.

The adjoining Trinity Churchyard Cemetery, opened in 1697, is one of three separate burial grounds that make up the non-denominational Trinity Church Cemetery (the others being the Churchyard of St. Paul’s Chapel and the Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum at the Chapel of Intercession). Among the 1,186 interred here are Alexander Hamilton, William Bradford, Robert Fulton (memorial tribute), Captain James Lawrence, John Jacob Astor, Horatio Gates, and Albert Gallatin. There is also memorials to the unknown martyrs of the Revolution buried on the grounds, 16 officers of the Continental Army and Navy buried in the church cemeteries, and to the thousands of Americans who died in prison ships in New York Harbor.

Trinity Church and Graveyard was designated a landmark by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1966.

National Register #76001252 (1982)