The Trinity Church has been significant to New York City’s history for over 300 years. In 1696, Governor Benjamin Fletcher approved the purchase of land in Lower Manhattan by the Church of England community for construction of a new church. The parish received its charter from King William III on May 6, 1697.
Trinity Church is a historic parish church in the Epicostal Diocese of New York located near the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway. Known for both its location and endowment, Trinity is a traditional high church with an active parish centered around the Epicostal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion in missionary, outreach, and fellowship.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (Latin: Trinitas, lit. ‘triad’, from trinus, “threefold”) holds that God is three consubstantial persons or hypostases—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit—as “one God in three Divine Persons”.
In 1696, a small group of Anglicans (members of the Church of England) petitioned the Royal Governor Benjamin Fletcher of New York, then a mercantile colony, for a charter granting the church legal status. Fletcher granted the charter in 1697 and the first Trinity Church was erected at the head of Wall Street facing the Hudson River. Although Anglican services had been held in the colony’s fort chapel, the building was the first Anglican Church on the island of Manhattan.
To ensure the church’s success, the governor granted Trinity a six-year lease on a tract of land north of Trinity known as the King’s Farm. In 1705, Queen Anne made this land grant permanent by giving 215 acres, which Trinity has used over the years to support the mission and ministry of Trinity and Anglican Church.
By 1750, the population of New York City had more than doubled. Services in Trinity Church were packed, and the church decided to construct its first chapel-of-ease for its increasingly far-flung communicants. St. George’s Chapel opened on the corner of Beekman and Cliff Streets on the eastern side of the island in 1752. In 1766, with New York’s population nearing 20,000, Trinity built St. Paul’s Chapel just up Broadway at the corner of Vesey Street. Today, St. Paul’s is the only colonial-era church remaining in Manhattan, and the oldest public building in continuous use in the borough. It celebrates its 250th anniversary in October 2016.
The first Trinity Church building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1776 during the Revolutionary War. St. Paul’s Chapel was saved by a bucket brigade that ran from the Hudson River up to the chapel’s roof. After the war Trinity, and all Anglican churches in the former colonies, legally separated from the Church of England and became the Episcopal Church, though both remain part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Following his inauguration as President of the United States in 1789, George Washington prayed in St. Paul’s Chapel. The next year, the second Trinity Church was completed. This church faced Wall Street and was both longer and wider than the first. The new steeple soared to a height of 200 feet. President Washington and members of his government were regular worshipers in the new Trinity building during the brief period New York City was the capital of the United States. Notable parishioners from this time include John Jay and Alexander Hamilton. (Source: https://www.trinitywallstreet.org/about/history)
Trinity Churchyard just beside the church is where Alexander Hamilton, (an American statesman and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the U.S. Constitution) Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, Philip Hamilton, William Bradford, (was an English Separatist originally from the West Riding of Yorkshire. He moved to Leiden in Holland in order to escape persecution from King James I of England, and then emigrated to the Plymouth Colony on the Mayflower in 1620.) Franklin Wharton, (was the third Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.) Captain James Lawrence, (was an American naval officer. During the War of 1812, he commanded USS Chesapeake in a single-ship action against HMS Shannon commanded by Philip Broke), Lord Stirling and Albert Gallatin, (he was an important leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, serving in various federal elective and appointed positions across four decades) were buried in Trinity Cemetery.
Remember the National Treasure movie when Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) has known that he is descended from a long line of people whose job is to guard a treasure hidden by the Founding Fathers, who hid clues to its whereabouts in the country’s currency and on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Trinity Church is one of the important featured in the movie and a major clue to find the treasure. I am a fan of that movie, so having to see the structure with my two eyes was a sort of “self-fulfilled” adventure as I starts my life here in Big Apple.