Trinity Episcopal (Anglican) Church
History of Trinity Episcopal Church

Author: Holly Marshall

Trinity Episcopal Church was founded in 1842 to serve the needs of Episcopalians on Chicago's South Side. It is the second oldest Episcopal Parish is Chicago. Services were initially conducted in a public "saloon" until a building was erected on Madison and Clark streets. Later the church moved to Jackson Street between Michigan and Wabash. This building was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, at which point Trinity moved south to its present location at 26th and Michigan. An esteemed example of Gothic architecture, Trinity was the church of the wealthy, socially prominent families that lived in the historic Prairie Avenue neighborhood. The three-story parish house was erected in 1894. Around this time, Harriet Blair Borland, a life-long member, presented the church with the Angel Lectern, which was designed for the World's Fair of 1893.

The growth of the "Gold Coast" north of the city's business district siphoned away many wealthy families, and Trinity's membership declined. Today, Trinity is growing again, and is a racially, culturally and economically integrated parish.

The Trinity Community

Trinity Episcopal Church is located on the near South Side, on the northern border of the area commonly known as "Bronzeville," the center of African-American cultural and economic life from the 1920's through the 40's. During the 1950's and 60's, urban renewal projects, specifically the construction of large public housing complexes (Stateway Gardens, Robert Taylor and Madden-Wells) coincided with the desegregation of other neighborhoods to create a rapid change in the demographics of the neighborhood, with the result that Bronzeville became overwhelmingly African-American, and poor.

Today, Bronzeville is in the midst of revitalization, spurred by public investment, included the CHA's rehabilitation plans, and private market forces. The area has attracted a series of new housing developments and rehabs. While the new investment is welcome, it cannot overshadow the fact that a large contingent of Bronzeville's residents continue to be plagued by poverty, unemployment, troubled youth and crime.

The unique demographics of Bronzeville make the neighborhood make both a challenge and an opportunity for communities of Faith like Trinity. The Pastor and the congregation have recommitted to the mission of the Church, and are eager to reach out to our neighbors and create strong, healthy and productive relationships.