The History of Trinity Episcopal Church - Mobile
1900 Dauphin Street
Trinity Church was Mobile's Second Episcopal Church. (Christ Church was the first.) It was begun in 1845. It was always a free church. (It did not rent pews as a source of income.)

First "real" Home of Trinity Church for 18 months (1845- 1846) at 7 S. Jackson - rented by
The Free Episcopal Church

Early Trinity helped create a foster home for orphans of the Civil War and formed Mobile's first Traveler's Aid. Trinity also founded the Church of the Good Shepherd and St. John's Church.
The present building was built in 1853-54 on St. Anthony Street at Jackson Street (the DeTonti Square area). Cotton was king in Mobile then and provided the funds with which to build the church. New York Architects Frank Wills and Henry Dudley were employed to design the building - a revolutionary (for that day) Gothic Revival.

Drawing by Architects - Frank Wills and Henry Dudley

It was the first of this design built in Alabama and among the first to be built in the deep South. Both men were from England and were greatly influenced by Augustus Pugin, the foremost English Ecclesiological architect (one of the architects for the Houses of Parliament in London).

The design of Trinity reflected the ideals of the high church Oxford Movement - emphasizing our catholic heritage: sacraments, creeds, practices, and ordered liturgy.

Trinity was hit hard by the Yellow Fever Epidemic. The Chuch Register shows that the Rector, Dr. Joshua Albert Massey, conducted 49 funerals in the month of September of 1853 - four in one day on September 26th. His own daughter may have fallen victim to this dreaded plague as the church's font was given in memory of Dr. Massey's daughter. It was dedicated in 1857.
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In June of 1865, Trinity's Doors were closed, along with all of the other Episcopal Churches in Alabama because of a Pastoral Letter written by the second Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama (Bishop Richard H. Wilmer). This letter stated that prayer should cease for the leaders of the Confederate government and that prayer for the President of the United States and all others in authority should be suspended until civil authority was restored in Alabama, replacing the Union military rule. In retaliation, the Federal Commander of the Department of Alabama closed all Episcopal doors. On the third of December, armed soldiers barred the doors of Trinity Church. On the tenth of January, the military order was officially rescinded by President Andrew Johnson and siad that "Bishop Wilmer is left to that remorse of conscience consequent to the exposure and failure of diabolical schemes od designing and corrupt minds." (Bishop Wilmer had no remorse. He was quite willing to pray for the President and all elected civil authority, but not willing to pray for an imposed military occupation government.)

The Rev. Ben A. Meginniss, Trinity's 14th Rector, used to say that Trinity's old bricks would speak to those who would listen. They say, "we endure." Through boom times and depression, through war and plague, through youth and old age, through good times and hard, even through Yellow Fever and Yankees, this old brick church endures and bespeaks the everlasting in a transitory world filled with crisis and uncertainty.

Earliest Known Rendering of Trinity in 1873 by J. Wells Champney. Note horse and buggy in front the church.

First known photograph of the interior made on February 21, 1897

In 1945, the church was dismantled and rebuilt in precise detail - "brick by brick," using the original bricks and hand-hewn oak at the present day site on Dauphin Street. Trinity had been conducting a Sunday School and a chapel at the Dauphin Street site since 1930. The Parish Hall was built in 1961.

Click here to take a tour of Trinity as you learn even more history.