Trinity Church, at 74 Trinity Place in New York City, is a historic full service parish church in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Trinity Church is located at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street in downtown Manhattan.
In 1696, Governor Benjamin Fletcher approved the purchase of land in Lower Manhattan by the Anglican community for construction of a new church. The parish received its charter from King William III of England on May 6, 1697. Its land grant specified an annual rent of one peppercorn due to the English crown.
The present day Trinity Church, designed by architect Richard Upjohn, is considered a classic example of Gothic Revival architecture and is designated a National Historic Landmark for its architectural significance and place within the history of New York City. When the church was consecrated on Ascension Day May 1, 1846, its soaring Neo-Gothic spire, surmounted by a gilded cross, dominated the skyline of lower Manhattan. Trinity was a welcoming beacon for ships sailing into New York Harbor.
Though skyscrapers have risen all around it, Trinity Church still stands as a significant statement of spiritual values in the heart of downtown Manhattan and serves as a center for contemplation, worship, and Christian community.
The First Trinity Church
The first Trinity Church was constructed in 1698. According to historical records, the infamous privateer Captain William Kidd lent the runner and tackle from his ship for hoisting the stones.
In 1705, Queen Anne of England increased the parish's land holdings to 215 acres (870,000 m²). In 1709, William Huddleston founded Trinity School as the Charity School of the church, and classes were originally held in the steeple of the church. And in 1754, King's College (now Columbia University) was chartered by King George II of Great Britain and instruction began with eight students in a school building nearby the church.
During the American Revolutionary War the clergy were required to be Loyalists, while the parishioners included some members of the First and Second Continental Congresses.
The church 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. The fire that started in the Fighting Cocks Tavern destroyed nearly 500 buildings and houses and left thousands of New Yorkers homeless. Six days later, most of the city's volunteer firemen followed General George Washington north.
In 1784, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Provoost, is appointed Rector of Trinity (1784-1800) and the New York State Legislature ratifies the charter of Trinity Church, deleting the provision that asserted its loyalty to the King of England. Whig patriots are appointed as vestrymen.
In 1787, the Rev. Provoost is consecrated as the first Bishop of the newly formed Diocese of New York.
And in 1789, following his inauguration at Federal Hall, George Washington attends Thanksgiving service, presided over by Bishop Provoost, at St. Paul's Chapel, a chapel of the Parish of Trinity Church. He continues to attend services there until the second Trinity Church was finished in 1790.