Trinity Church

New York
NY

Portrait by Artist to Come

QUICK FACTS
  • From its inception, Trinity Parish grows rapidly. Eventually it includes a total of 11 different chapels, including St. Paul's Chapel.
  • During the Great New York Fire of 1776 Trinity Church is destroyed, while St. Paul’s is saved by a bucket brigade that runs from the Hudson River up to the chapel’s roof.
BURIED AT TRINITY

Trinity Churchyard

  • Lord Stirling (1726–1783), Major General
  • Horatio Gates (1727–1806), Major General
  • Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804)
  • Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (1757–1854), Alexander Hamilton’s wife and daughter of General Philip Schuyler
  • Albert Gallatin (1761–1849), fourth U.S. Treasury Secretary
  • Robert Fulton (1765–1815), inventor

St. Paul’s Chapel Churchyard

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The Anglican parish of Trinity Church was founded in 1698 in lower Manhattan; the first church building was constructed facing Wall Street the same year. The magnificent neo-gothic structure that stands today is the congregation’s third church, formally known as Trinity Church Wall Street, An Episcopal Parish in New York City.

The first church burnt down in September 1776, during the early days of the British occupation of New York. Though up to a quarter of the city’s buildings were destroyed, Trinity’s nearby chapel, St. Paul’s, was unscathed. It was used as the primary place of worship for the congregation until a new church could be built.

Construction of a second Trinity Church began in 1788 and was consecrated in 1790, with President George Washington in attendance. In addition to the President, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and other members of the of the government worshipped there when, for a little over a year (1789—91), New York was the first U.S. Capitol.

Following structural issues and a recommendation by architect Richard Upjohn, a third Trinity Church began construction in 1839 and was completed in 1846.

With a steeple standing 281 feet high, it was the tallest building in New York for nearly 25 years. Considered by architectural historians to be one of the first and finest examples of neo-gothic architecture in the United States, Trinity Church was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of Interior in 1976.

Lafayette’s years in America had given him the most glorious career it was possible for a youth of his disposition to imagine. He had fought for a noble cause, and won the love of a nation. George Washington sent him admiring and heart-sore letters after the marquis returned to France; the state of Virginia presented a bust of him to the city of Paris; the island of Nantucket sent him a 500-pound cheese. Lafayette cherished the love he had earned overseas, and never let the French forget it. When his first two children were born, he named the boy George Washington and the girl Virginia. At his Paris household, his family spoke English, and his messenger was dressed as an American Indian.

Richard Brookhiser
Gentleman Revolutionary: Gouverneur Morris, the Rake Who Wrote the Constitution (2003)