Houses of Worship: Trinity Church Wall Street
The Trinity Church received its charter from King William III in 1697, establishing its rules, the boundaries of the first land grant and the system of managing the succession of rectors. It also established the rent, to be paid annually, to the Crown: one peppercorn.
The Neo-Gothic edifice crowning Wall Street and overlooking the New York Stock Exchange is the third Trinity Church Wall Street building, the two prior having been destroyed by fire and storm. When this building was consecrated in 1846 it was the tallest building in New York, at 281 feet, and the tallest building in the country. Extending above the church doors are stained glass windows in a Gothic arch. At its apex is the diamond-shaped clock visible from blocks away. Inside the nave are vaulted ceilings and sculpted stone columns. Richard Upjohn, the architect, was a fan of Anglo-Catholic style as well as English Gothic architecture and worked these elements into the Trinity Church.
Among the most prominent parishioners buried in the Trinity churchyard are Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton; Francis Lewis, one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence; and Albert Gallatin, founder of New York University and Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson. The oldest documented grave is Richard Churcher who died in 1681 at age five, predating the church itself and buried in the original Dutch burial ground. The churchyard further features the Soldiers’ Monument, 45 feet tall and made of brown stone resting on a granite foundation, that was built to memorialize the American soldiers who died in captivity during the American Revolutionary War.
Advancing the church’s name and reputation are the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street. They have performed as far afield as Berkeley, California, and are touted as delivering the best performance of Handel’s Messiah in New York.
Today the parish works with the vision “to serve and heal the world by building neighborhoods that live gospel truths, generations of faithful leaders, and sustainable communities.” They hold events in the arts for the congregation and community such as book clubs and a Poets’ Corner. They also have programs dedicated to youth and families, with a Trinity Youth Chorus and an Advent Family Retreat. As to the rent owed to the Crown, it went unpaid until 1976 when Queen Elizabeth II visited the Trinity Church. The rector presented Her Majesty with the balance of rent owed since 1697: 279 peppercorns.