skip to Main Content

History – Our Building

The highlighted passage would be a helpful addition in indicating the place of building in the history of the diocese and its importance to the current bishop. It needs help as I do not know enough specifics.

The Church of the Holy Trinity

The National Historic Landmark church now known as St. Ann & the Holy Trinity was built as The Church of the Holy Trinity by Brooklyn paper manufacturer Edgar Bartow who wanted a magnificent edifice for the City of Brooklyn, with pews that were rent-free. He built the church between 1844 and 1847 on the highest point in Brooklyn Heights, which was then sparsely settled with some large merchants’ homes, small homes and shops and a number of unfinished streets and vacant lots. Bartow purchased the site’s eight lots from the nearby estate of Hezekiah B. Pierrepont (his wife’s family).

Bartow chose architect Minard LaFever to design the church and adjoining chapel and rectory, which are considered to be the finest achievement of LaFever’s career. An important example of Gothic Revival architecture in America, the richly ornamented church is notable for its elaborately vaulted roof and extensive suite of stained glass windows by William Jay Bolton. The church’s official opening was April 25, 1847, although the building was not entirely completed. A 275-foot tower was designed but not fully built until 1869. Its spire was the most visible landmark in Brooklyn and was used by ship captains to navigate the harbor. The church removed it 1906 because of concern about falling stone and the high cost of maintenance.

The exterior is porous brownstone over a brick core. Inside, the walls are plaster, colored and textured to look like stone. The nave is 145 feet long and 42 feet wide. The intricate fan-vaulted ceiling is 63 feet high. The current altar, brass chancel rail, pulpit, reredos, and chancel tiling were part of an 1899 renovation.

The Church of the Holy Trinity soon gained stature and influence in an expanding Brooklyn as well as within the larger Episcopal Church. In DATE?, the parish hosted the (conference? Convocation?) final deliberations that created the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. Holy Trinity was the Mother Church, or cathedral, of the new diocese until 1869, when the first diocesan bishop was seated at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, Long Island.

St. Ann’s Church

For a century, The Church of the Holy Trinity was recognized as an esteemed and influential institution. However, during the Cold War, there was dissention within the congregation, and accusations of communist activity were leveled against the assistant rector. The protracted and irreconcilable differences within parish and with diocesan authorities eventually led to the dissolution of the church in 1957. The building was closed and stood mostly vacant until 1969, when nearby St. Ann’s Church, the oldest Episcopal congregation in Brooklyn, sold its property to The Packer Collegiate Institute next door and was permitted to move four blocks into the long-empty Holy Trinity building. St. Ann’s took the new name of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity in honor of the building’s heritage.

Today’s parishioners continue the life of a body of faithful Episcopalians who have worshiped in Brooklyn for more than 240 years, first gathering during the American Revolution. At that time, a group of Anglican-minded neighbors in the Village of Brooklyn wanted services of their own services rather than attend the Dutch Reformed church. They first met in the living room of Joshua and Ann Sands on Sunday, April 5, 1778. The congregation then moved to larger quarters in John Middagh’s barn in 1784 and formally organized as the Episcopal Church of Brooklyn in 1787. In 1795, the parish obtained its own building at Washington Street in what is now Dumbo and reorganized as St. Ann’s Church, named for its benefactor Ann Sands. In 1869, plans for the Brooklyn Bridge called for use of the church’s property and burial ground. The church moved to Clinton and Livingston Streets in what is now Brooklyn Heights, and allotted its burial plots to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn and The Evergreens(Cemetery of the Evergreens) in Queens. Plots remain available today. Contact us with the form below.

Take a 360° panoramic tour of the interior of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church as it is today.

A 360° panoramic view of the interior of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church

Jeremy Seto made this 360° panorama of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church’s interior on a May 22, 2016, visit to the church and has generously shared it with us.

St. Ann and the Holy Trinity

Back To Top