The Trinity Church was originally founded in 1728, after determining that the two other Episcopalian churches in the City couldn’t take in any new parishioners. The current church was completed in 1877. Its architecture is nationally acclaimed for its unique “Richardsonian Romanesque” design. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
The current site of
the Trinity Church is the third building constructed for its congregation. The church was originally founded in 1728. It
took six years to secure funding to build the first church structure, and the initial
cornerstone was finally laid in 1734. The
first church was located at the corner of Summer Street
and Bishop Alley (now Hawley Street).
The second site,
located in Downtown Crossing, was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1872, which further
led to the need for a new building.
The congregation had already started making plans for the third church. The
far grander Trinity Church on Clarendon Street, built in the very fashionable
Back Bay neighborhood, was completed in 1877.
The current structure was designed by architect Henry Hobson Richardson (commonly referred to as “H.H. Richardson”). The design was inspired by the 11th
century French Romanesque churches, but with Richardson’s style; hence, the
term “Richardsonian Romanesque” is often used to describe the structure’s
architecture. The design for the church was not his first masterpiece. However, it was the one that won him a
national reputation, many imitators, and so many New England commissions that it
became desirable for him to move his family from New York City to the Boston
area in 1874.
Richardson’s design for the church consisted of an unusual Greek
cross plan, with chancel, nave, and transepts of equal size surrounding a
central square. The roof of the center
square rises 211 feet into the air, forming the eminent tower. The interior of the church has a black walnut
finish. The vestibule is beautifully
completed with ash and oak.
The building is not only significant for its architecture, but
also for the great amount of artwork within the walls. Murals line almost every square inch of wall
space in the interior of the church. Beautiful stain glass windows adorn the
structure. The murals and windows of the
Church were conceived by artist John LaFarge.
LaFarge was a watercolor painter and stained-glass artist who trained in
Paris under Thomas Couture. He was commissioned in 1876 to design the interior
of Trinity Church. LaFarge’s work was much admired and he was later commission
for several more important projects, including: St. Thomas’s Church, New York
(1878) and the Church of the Ascension, New York (1888). A photo gallery of the
church’s historic architecture and windows can be viewed on the church’s website
The Church is open to the public for prayers and tours on Sunday
afternoons from 12:15 – 4:30 p.m. and Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m.
– 4:30 p.m. According to the City of Boston’s Assessing Department, the
church and the acre of land it is situated on are currently worth over $126