Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Inwood, Manhattan

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Inwood, Manhattan. Image 1

Holy Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church of Harlem was founded in 1868, shortly after the close of the American Civil War. The first church, located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 125th Street, was designed by John W. Welch and built from 1869-70. A great fire in 1888 destroyed the building, and the land was sold to Temple Israel.

A new church, on the southwest corner of Lenox Avenue and 122nd Street, was designed by William A. Potter and completed in 1888. Built on a 100-by-150-foot site, Potter's imposing Romanesque Revial church complex included a rectory and extensive parish house. The exterior was faced with rough red granite trimmed with sandstone, and over the entrance is a massive square tower topped by a pyramidal roof. The interior provided seating for 1,000, and featured transept galleries supported by iron columns and a vaulted ceiling. In 1925, a devastating fire gutted the church interior and destroyed an organ installed in 1923. At the time, Harlem was in a population flux as a growing black American population moved to the area. In response, many white residents sold their magnificent brownstones and relocated elsewhere. The vestry of Holy Trinity Church, in keeping with prevailing thoughts at the time, decided to take the opportunity afforded by the fire to sell the church and relocate.

In 1927, after much discussion, Holy Trinity agreed to merge with a small but dynamic mission church in Inwood, called Holy Redeemer, at Seaman Avenue and Isham. The simple wood frame church of Holy Redeemer stood where the tennis courts of Inwood Hill Park now stand. Financially there was a merger, but most parishioners came from the Holy Redeemer Parish. With the generous proceeds from the sale of the old Harlem church location, new land was purchased on the corner of Cumming Street and Seaman Avenue. There, the church planned to erect a tall Gothic Moderne church with towering flèche, but then the stock market crashed and the Depression began. Plans were suspended, and the parish moved forward with only the lower portion of the planned sanctuary and a community house, as designed by Springsteen & Goldhammer and built in 1935. The upper sanctuary and rectory were never constructed.

based on a Page at NYC AGO
Contact info:
20 Cumming Street
New York, NY 10034-4804