Sunday, January 9, 2011

Trinity Church

The present red brick Gothic Revival church building, the third to occupy the site, was constructed in 1855, and twelve of the stained glass windows are made of opalescent glass from the studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany, dating from the first decades of the 20th century.

The historic churchyard contains the graves of 17 known Revolutionary War soldiers. Until 1853, when Thornrose Cemetery was opened, the Trinity churchyard was the town’s public burying ground, dating back to the 1750s. In July 1781, Virginia's general assembly fled to Staunton to escape the advancing British forces; while here they elected Thomas Nelson as governor in a session held at the original Trinity Church building (Nelson replaced Thomas Jefferson); present for this session were Patrick Henry and Daniel Boone. During the Civil War, Virginia Theological Seminary moved from Alexandria to Staunton, using Trinity Church as its base.

The church gallery contains a magnificent organ installed in 1999 by world renowned tracker action pipe organ builder Taylor & Boody, whose factory is located in a renovated school building three miles west of downtown Staunton. As well, a recently constructed open air labyrinth is available for use during daytime hours.

Trivia: Presbyterians played an important part in the history of Trinity Church. When Augusta County was founded (split from Orange County), Virginia's governor ordered that a parish of the Church of England be established in Staunton. Upon its founding in 1746, the first 12-member vestry included nine Presbyterians, because there were not enough members of the Church of England in the area; only one member of that first vestry was an official member of the Church of England, which was the mandated church of Virginia until the American Revolution (so long as citizens paid taxes to the Church of England, they could worship as other denominations, such as Baptists and Presbyterians). Trinity's first minister was local Presbyterian pastor John Hindman, who was shipped of to England to be ordained by the Bishop of London. Services were held in the Staunton courthouse for fourteen years, until the first brick church building was constructed on this site in 1760. Local Presbyterians did not build their first church until 1818, so they worshiped at Trinity up until that time.

Trinity Episcopal Church is located on Beverley St. at the corner of Lewis St. on the western edge of downtown's Red Brick District. 540-886-9132

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