Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

By STEVE HAROLD

Manistee County Historical Museum

The local Episcopal Church congregation traces its roots to 1869 when the first services were conducted by a Rev. Pitkin and a Rev. Worthington. In the early 1880s an Episcopal missionary, the Rev. William Stone Hayward, was assigned to Manistee. During his years of service, $620 was raised for the construction of a church.

In October of 1887, the Rev. H.E.S. Somerville took charge of the Manistee mission. Through his leadership, the Church of the Holy Trinity was organized on March 10, 1888. Planning immediately commenced for the building of a church and lots were purchased on Second Street. Architect Richard Upjohn provided plans and construction got under way the following summer. A cornerstone was laid on Oct. 14, 1888.

The Holy Trinity Episcopal Church located on Second Street in Manistee. The building was constructed in 1888 at a cost of $2,000 for the lot and $8,000 for the building. (Courtesy Photo/Manistee County Historical Museum)

On Dec. 16, 1888, the new building was formally opened with a complete schedule of services. (Since the building was encumbered with a mortgage of about $1,000, dedication ceremonies had to be postponed until the indebtedness was paid off, according to a rule of the church.) The Manistee Democrat for Dec. 20 carried the following description of the building:

“The building is of gray limestone with cut sandstone trimmings, and is built in the shape of a cross. The east side of the building is the tower about 50 feet high, the ground floor of which forms one arm of the cross. The main room is 25 by 75 feet in size and each arm of the cross, about 12 by 18 feet. The Norman style of architecture is followed throughout with a high vaulted roof. The woodwork is of Norway pine finished in natural cedar, as will also be the pews which are being manufactured. The windows are of stained glass and are very handsome, giving a pleasuring effect, and the building is heated by a furnace.

“The furnishing of the church is far from complete, but includes a beautiful altar, a pipe organ, Bishop’s chair, etc., and work in this direction is being rapidly pushed. The cost of the building will be about $8,000 and of the lot $2,000. The work has all been done under the supervision and leadership of the rector Rev. H.E.S. Sommerville, and has been brought to this successful termination during his ministry of the society will have one of the coziest places of worship in Michigan and one they will have reason to be proud.”

Within a few short years, the interior of the church was completed, finished and the congregation was justifiably proud of the elegant Norman church. A fire on Nov. 21, 1909, destroyed the interior and money from the insurance was used to pay off the mortgage, while rebuilding moved forward rapidly. The restored church was consecrated at special services on May 6, 1910. Again Nov. 7, 1929, a fire which started in the pipe organ seriously damaged the building. Through diligent efforts the congregation had the building sufficiently repaired for Christmas Eve services the same year.

In the spring of 1930, a porch was added to the building and a new pipe organ was installed. In 1981 the building was recognized as a Historic Site of the State of Michigan and the official plaque was unveiled on June 14 of that year marking the site.

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