An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Trinity Church, New York

Sometimes called Trinity Church, Wall Street. In 1696 Governor Benjamin Fletcher of New York granted his approval for the Anglicans in Manhattan to purchase land for a new church. On Nov. 2, 1696, the vestry of the new Trinity Church called William Vesey to be the rector. King William III of England granted a charter and a land grant for Trinity Church. The annual rent was “one peppercorne” to be sent to the king. On Mar. 13, 1698, the first Trinity Church building, a modest rectangular structure, opened for worship. In 1705 Queen Anne and Lord Cornbury, governor of New York, gave Trinity Church a tract of land known variously as “Duke's Farm,” “King's Farm,” and “Queen's Farm.” This increased Trinity's holdings to 215 acres. Trinity later divested most of this land to establish and endow other churches and institutions, including what is now Columbia University. It also provided Trinity Church with a large endowment. In 1709 it founded the Charity School, now known as Trinity School. In Sept. 1776 the original church structure and the Charity School were destroyed by fire. The second building was consecrated in 1790. Heavy snows in the winter of 1838/1839 weakened this second structure and it was torn down. On Ascension Day, May 21, 1846, the third and current church structure was consecrated. Designed by Richard Upjohn, it is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the United States. In 1950 Trinity Church published the first issue of Trinity News. On July 9, 1976, Queen Elizabeth II was presented with the symbolic “back rent” of 279 peppercorns. Trinity Church is one of the largest commercial landlords in New York City.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.