Trinity Church Rejuvenation

The Trinity Nave: Then and Now

James Melchiorre

The nave of Trinity Church Wall Street underwent rejuvenation between May 2018 and December 2019, the most extensive interior work in the 174-year-old building in three-quarters of a century. Less than three months after the return of public worship to the nave, on Christmas Eve, the novel coronavirus pandemic in March forced the closure of the church for all activities except online-only worship. While more time will likely pass before Trinity Church re-opens to all, these contrasting photographs provide a way to appreciate the dramatic changes to the look and feel of this sacred space. Use the slider in the photo to compare the space before rejuvenation (on the left) with how it looks with rejuvenation complete (to the right). These "slider" images are part of a continuing series focusing on the rejuvenation of the Trinity Church nave.

All photos are courtesy of Colin Winterbottom.

View from the middle of the nave looking westward toward the chancel.


These images document numerous changes. Pews have been lowered and shelves reconfigured to improve the comfort of worshippers. In the center aisle, the historic stone remains, its look and style extended forward, replacing the red marble that dated from the 1960s. On the chancel, in the pre-rejuvenation image, the ornamented marble altar, originally used during worship, is obscured. Following rejuvenation, the original, 1877 High Altar is front and center.

The High Altar


After being part of the Astor Reredos since the late 1870s, Trinity's High Altar has been moved forward so the priest can preside during worship facing the congregation. The marble floor running up to the Reredos has been lowered to remove multiple steps, thus making the chancel more accessible to all. To fill the space opened by the move of the altar, three new mosaic panels were made to match the materials and styles of the original mosaics (attributed to the 19th century artist Antonio Salviati). The new center panel was constructed to allow installation of a time capsule.

What Lies Beneath: Infrastructure Improvement


Prior to rejuvenation, the numerous power and communication cables that have been added since the construction of the nave in the 1840s created a tangle of wires that has been compared to a "rat's nest" of cords running haphazardly below pews and under the center aisle. The rejuvenation project included installing conduits for these cables. Also shown are cinderblock frames for intake boxes to support upgraded air-conditioning.

Stained-Glass Windows, south side of nave.


The pre-rejuvenation image shows the yellow clerestory-level windows, installed in the late 1960s, surrounded by a paint scheme that was not true to architect Richard Upjohn's 1840s design. Post-rejuvenation, clear glass is now in place which will allow far more natural light to enter, and brighten the nave. The colored stained-glass above the clear lancets is original and unchanged.

The ceiling of the nave.


The highest reaches of the church were impressive before rejuvenation, and even more dramatically attractive now. New hanging light fixtures, the replacement of the yellow glass, and a return to the stone-block paint scheme of the 1840s are all striking details.

Holy Eucharist on Sundays at Trinity


Both the "before" and "after" images demonstrate the centrality of worship at Trinity Church Wall Street, with an improved level of comfort and accessibility that creates a new atmosphere for church services that are offered every Sunday through Friday, and at many other times, in this space.