The Holy Trinity Organs
In 2012 the Archives Committee compiled and published The History of the Organs at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Gainesville, Florida. Printed copies of this history are available through Trish Hunter, Parish Bookkeeper. To view this document in PDF form, go to the Music page on this website:
Brief History of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
On the eve of the Civil War, an Episcopal church was born in Gainesville. In the late 1850’s, Bishop Rutledge, the first Diocesan in Florida, dispatched itinerant priests to serve Episcopalians in Gainesville and surrounding small towns. In 1860, The Rev. O.P Thackara of Fernandina brought together several families and established a mission which gathered in private homes and at the Presbyterian Church. The completion of the railroad that stretched across Florida from Fernandina to Cedar Key brought an influx of people and commerce to Gainesville as it began to recover from the ravages of war.
By 1868, “Trinity Parish” recorded 26 communicants, with The Rev. B.F. Dunkin Perry serving as first Rector. Services were held in the Old Courthouse and later in the Town Hall. By 1869, funds had been raised to purchase property on the corner of North Main and NE Second Avenue, at the present site of the Masonic Temple. Despite an epidemic of yellow fever, failure of the cotton crop, and a national financial collapse, the construction of a wooden, Carpenter Gothic church began. By 1873, Bishop Young visited the new facility, now served by The Rev. E.W. Meany, Rector. In 1886, the church was incorporated as “The Church of the Holy Trinity.”
Growth in the city and the rumble from the prospering railroad traffic outside its doors compelled the members to seek a quieter location for worship. In 1903, a lot was purchased on the corner of NE First Street and First Avenue. Bishop Weed laid the cornerstone in 1905. By 1907, a stone, Gothic structure was completed, thriving under the leadership of The Rev. Francis B. Craighill and serving 100 communicants.
As the University of Florida grew, so grew Gainesville and Holy Trinity. Increased church membership prompted construction of a parish hall with classrooms in 1923. During the Depression and WWII, the church struggled as did the rest of the nation. Afterward, the influx of veterans benefitting from the GI Bill put the university, the city, and Holy Trinity on a new path of growth. The inspired ministry of Earle C. Page, spanning 25 years from 1960 to1985, invigorated the parish. Purchase of properties adjoining the church made way for the Phillips Education building in 1961. A Memorial Garden on the south side of the building was redesigned and rededicated in 1964. With Earle Page leading the way, the church members dedicated themselves to parish and community ministries.
On January 21, 1991, fire destroyed the 1907 Holy Trinity church building. A second fire in 1992 destroyed the 1923 Parish hall. Under the leadership of The Rev. David Pittman, the rebuilding process started immediately. The surviving bell tower guided the intention to replicate though enlarge the 1907 plan. Expanded office, reception, and classroom space enhanced the new design. By spring 1994, Holy Trinity parishioners resumed worship services in the newly-completed Page Parish Hall. On Christmas Eve, 1994, Holy Trinity celebrated the Nativity in its new church.
Holy Trinity sustains its members and serves the downtown community in the multitude of activities described elsewhere on this website. Devoted lay leadership, strong rectors, and the development of a city and its university bracket the history of this church as it reaches toward its 150th anniversary. Holy Trinity goes forward, guided by its first female rector, The Rev. Louanne Loch, making new history in Christ’s name.