Trinity Episcopal Church
Andrew Jackson was the nation's president. Florida was still a territory. Steamships were becoming popular, but sailing ships were still the principal means of transportation, not only across the oceans, but from port to port across the United States. Henry Ford's birth was more than a quarter century into the future, his first automobile would not be invented for yet another sixty years. Orville and Wilbur Wright would not be born for another thirty years, their 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk was almost seventy years away. In New Salem, Illinois, law student Abraham Lincoln passed the bar examination. It was the year 1836 and Trinity Episcopal Church began holding regular services in the growing Gulf port city of Apalachicola, Florida.
Trinity Church has been holding services in it's original building for more than 150 years. Construction of the building actually began in New York. In 1837, white pine was ordered out of New York then shipped via schooner down the Atlantic eastern seaboard, around the tip of the Florida peninsula and up to Apalachicola, where the structure was assembled with wooden pins. The columns at the entrance were hand-crafted. Trinity Church is believed to be the sixth oldest church in the State of Florida, the second oldest church still holding services. The church building, of Greek Revival architecture, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the first members was Dr. John Gorrie, the 19th century physician who is credited with inventing the ice machine, forerunner of modern refrigeration and air conditioning.
In 1900, Trinity Church added to it's property a parsonage adjacent to the church building. A residence for the minister and family, it is a substantial wooden structure in the Victorian style that was the popular architecture of Apalachicola during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The latest addition was Benedict Hall, a parish house, Sunday school building, meeting place and fellowship hall completed in 1932 and named in honor of a beloved and popular pastor, the late Reverend George E. Benedict, who was minister of Trinity Church from 1916 to 1930.
Maintenance and preservation needs of Trinity Church are heavy and ever-expanding. Among the most significant structures in this quaint old town, the three antique wooden buildings require constant care and upkeep. With membership slightly over 100 individuals, even the strong commitment of the congregation is inadequate to meet regular, ongoing needs. The church's buildings are widely used in community activities, including an annual concert series, a children's reading program each summer, and area historical society meetings and lectures. Planned giving programs and imaginative fund-raising efforts have therefore been instituted to provide the financial support necessary to help meet the church's obligation to it's heritage and responsibilities in the community. Both a Restoration Fund and an Endowment Fund have been chartered, and friends and former members from all over the country are being invited to contribute. In August 1991, the congregation established a consignment and thrift shop at 195 Avenue E in Apalachicola, with sales proceeds helping underwrite critical preservation and maintenance requirements.
Each year Trinity Church hosts a Historic Tour of Homes, featuring some of the city's most treasured homes, churches, and other buildings. All profits from the tour are used in the church's preservation efforts. This online tour of homes is only a brief introduction to some of the buildings that are available to the hundreds of individuals who enjoy each year's tour. We hope that this sampling will persuade you to join us at the next Trinity Episcopal Church Historic Tour of Homes.