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Voices from the Trinity community

Trinity’s dedication to serving the needs of the surrounding neighborhood has been an important part of its mission since its founding, taking many forms throughout its history, including a 19th century medical dispensary. 

During an 1879 sermon, Trinity Rector Morgan Dix called for “means to employ a competent physician to take care of the sick poor in this neighborhood.”

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Did you know Trinity Church used to be the tallest building in New York City? When construction was completed in 1846, the steeple reached 281 feet, making it one of the most recognizable features of the skyline and a welcome sight for those sailing into New York Harbor.

The height also allowed for an unparalleled view of the city, water, and sky. The steeple served as

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On this day in 1984, Anita Louise Schell became the first woman to be ordained as a priest at Trinity Church. The Episcopal Church had been ordaining women for only 10 years when Schell was called, and many were still opposed to the idea.

“I kind of made it through a lot of hurdles in my way," she later recalled. "You tend to forget those things where you're on the other side. But it's

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Due to a disagreement over the organ at St. Paul’s, tensions between Edward Hodges and Henry Erben had simmered for years. In 1839, the professional disagreement quickly turned into an ugly feud after Hodges was appointed Organist and Music Director of Trinity Church. The Vestry had recently decided to demolish the church, and the building committee asked Hodges to prepare plans for an organ to be installed in the new one.  

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On April 30, 1789, George Washington stood on the portico at Federal Hall, placed his hand on a bible borrowed from the local Masonic lodge, and took the presidential oath of office. The oath was administered by Chancellor of the State of New York, Robert Livingston, who then turned to the crowd and shouted, “Long live George Washington, President of the United States!” As the crowd cheered, Washington turned and walked into the senate chamber to deliver his inaugural address.

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April 16 marks the 23rd anniversary of the death of Ralph Waldo Ellison, interred at Trinity Church Cemetery. Ellison was a novelist, essayist, and critic best known for his 1952 novel, Invisible Man.


Born in Oklahoma City, Ellison worked a variety of odd jobs before attending the Tuskegee Institute to study music. In 1936 he moved to New York City to earn money for the

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The Civil War is often referred to as a war fought “Brother against brother,” a description perfectly suited to Thomas and Percival Drayton.

Born to a prominent family in Charleston, the brothers were separated in 1833 when their father, a unionist, moved the family to Philadelphia. Thomas chose to stay in South Carolina, working as an engineer and later elected to the State Legislator, where he was an outspoken supporter of slavery and state rights. Percival began his military career

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Did you know that April 6 is national Plan Your Epitaph Day?

An epitaph is a brief inscription that appears on a grave to memorialize the deceased, usually written by loved ones after the person has died. In many ways your epitaph is the last opportunity to say how you want to be remembered; why let someone else say it for you? Imagine 50 or even 100 years from now, a passerby strolls past your final resting place, what do you want to tell them about yourself? 

If you need some

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Did you know that March 11 is recognized as National Genealogy Day? In honor of this day, which encourages people to examine the history and lineage of their ancestors, here is a look at some of the more notable names which pop up in Trinity’s genealogical records.

Marriage of James Monroe:

On February 16, 1786, James Monroe—almost thirty years prior to becoming President of the United States—was married at Trinity Church by Trinity’s then-rector, Benjamin

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