Tag Archives: Trinity Church

Trinity Church – Building in the 19th Century

First Trinity Church 1818 – Copy of a Watercolor done in 1877 by Georgiana Sargent

The First Trinity Church

By 1818 the Lenox Anglican community had finally amassed the funds to complete its first church.  It was in the center of the village at 33 Church Street.

It was consecrated Sept. 7, 1818 by Bishop Alexander Viets Griswold. The bishop was a nephew of the first Anglican priest to visit Lenox, Roger Viets (probably 1763).

The white wooden church was described as Gothic Revival or Carpenter Gothic.  The stylistic indicators include the window shape and the steeple parapets.  This may have been an early example of the style  common in New England  in the 1830-1850 period.

In 1873 a new chancel and transepts were added.

When the new Trinity Church was built at Walker and Kemble, the old church building was purchased by parishioner L.C. Peters and stands (without its spire) on Church St. today.

Trinity became the legal name of the congregation in 1918 but there is reference to “Trinity Church” in the 1819 vestry records.

The Episcopalian Church in Lenox Struggled in Mid 19th Century

The consecration must have had some interesting interpersonal chemistry since the rector at the time, Samuel Griswold was the brother of Bishop Griswold and was dismissed ten days later!

After Rev. Griswold’s departure, only one dedicated Lenox rector for (1840-1844-Rev. George Waters) is listed in John Allen Gable’s history.  For the rest of the time, services were shared with other parishes and revenue was supplemented by the missionary society.

In 1832 only 18 adult members were listed. and by 1850 services were only held occasionally.  The absence of a regular rector certainly contributed to the fall off in membership but undoubtedly was not the only factor.  During the first half of the 19th century, new Episcopal parishes proliferated.  Ironically, they included  (Pittsfield, Stockbridge, Otis and others) towns that had spun off from early worship in Lenox.  At that time the pulpit at Church on the Hill was manned by the very popular Rev. Shephard.  Also, it was the era of revivals and new sects to the area — including the addition of a Methodist church that was established down the street on the now aptly named Church St.

As with many churches then and now, the flame was kept burning by a few dedicated volunteers.  One, Debby Hewes Quincy, is singled out with a plaque in the current Trinity Church.

Several other factors contributed to turning things around for the little Trinity congregation.  Bishop Manton Eastburn wanted a strong priest in Lenox to turn back the tide of Unitarianism.  Also, train service was now available and the early generation of wealthy summer visitors (frequently Episcopalians from New York) had started to arrive.  Finally, a popular priest, Thomas Pynchon led the congregation from 1850-1854.  A quote from Charles Palmer’s early history of Trinity paints a picture of his interaction with a particularly demanding visitor:

“As he went out of the church he (Mr. Pynchon)saw a figure seated on the steps.  It arose as he approached, and shaking a forefinger at him said in a very deep and impressive voice: ‘Your music is execrable, execrable!  If you will have the organ sent to Pittsfield for repairs and tuning, I will pay for it.’  The seated figure was Miss Fanny Kemble.  She became a regular attendant at the services, a liberal contributor, and a warm personal friend of Mr. Pynchon.”

Despite the popularity of Mr. Pynchon and several other well thought of but short term priests (Rev. William Henry Brooks, Rev. Henry Albert Yardley), the Lenox continued to struggle and Lenox again required missionary aid.

Leadership of Rev. Justin Field

Rectory During the Field Era – on Stockbridge Road

The full potential of the resident and visiting Anglican congregation was achieved under the leadership of the long-serving Rev. Justin Field who was rector 1862-1890.

Construction of New Trinity Church, Rectory and Chapel

Col. Richard Tylden Auchmuty (1821-1893) Lived at The Dormers in Lenox

The first official mention of a new church building is found in 1882.  The building effort was led by architect, philanthropist and church warden Colonel Richard Tylden Auchmuty.

The church purchased the triangle formed by Kemble and Walker (known as Lyman’s corner – for – according to maps of the time  – the location of the Lyman’s residence/ store).

88 Walker St. Trinity Episcopal Church
The Handsome Result of McKim, Auchmuty, et al Design Was Completed in 1888

The building committee hired McKim, Mead and White and, like any other self respecting church committee proceeded to dabble. Five designs later the very handsome result reflect some McKim, some Auchmuty and some Renwick (a friend and associate of Auchmuty’s).

Former President, Chester A. Arthur, Laid the Cornerstone for the New Stone Church in 1885

The cornerstone was laid September 8, 1885 by former President Chester A. Arthur.  Arthur’s Secretary of State, Theodore Frelinghuysen from New Jersey had built the lovely Georgian “cottage” across the street in 1881.  A plaque honoring the 21st President stands in Trinity today.

The new church was consecrated June 19, 1888 and was filled with Tiffany windows and other elaborate furnishings donated by a who’s who of wealthy summer visitors.

The church interior as of 2016 reflects substantial additional decoration and re-staining in the 1920’s

Undeterred by having spent three times their budget on the church, the parishioners proceeded to construct a handsome rectory in 1892 and a chapel in 1896.

88 Walker St., Trinity Episcopal Rectory
88 Walker St., Trinity Episcopal Rectory, 1892
88 Walker St., Trinity Episcopal Church Parish House - 1896
88 Walker St., Trinity Episcopal Church Parish House – 1896












At last the wealthy visitors had a place of worship consistent with their gilded age “cottages.”

St. Helena’s

St. Helena’s Chapel, New Lenox, 1893

Originally called the Union Chapel, the New Lenox Episcopal Church was completed in 1893.  Later called St. Helena’s, it was donated by John E. Parsons in honor of his daughter, Helen Reed Parsons.

Mr. Rathbun is referenced as the architect in a Pittsfield Sun article.  Mr. Rathbun was also thought to be the architect of the Church on the Hill Chapel on Main St.

In the then thinly settled New Lenox, the chapel’s use was highly ecumenical with Rev. Grosvenor conducting services two Sundays a month, the Methodists on another and the Baptists on a fourth.

St. Helena’s remained a part of Trinity Church until 1980 when it was established as a separate parish.  The two churches have just completed an agreement (2016) to share services.

Trinity Rectors 1801-1895

Samuel Griswold (1801-1818)

(1819-1820 – Rev. George Thomas Chapman served Lenox, Lanesborough and Great Barrington)

Aaron Humphrey (1820-1825)-one Sunday a month, the rest of the time in Lanesborough

Benjamin C.C. Parker (1826-1832) – also Otis

Samuel P. Parker (1834-1836) – also Stockbridge

(1836 Rev. Mr. Walcott of Stockbridge conducted services in Lenox)

George Waters (1840-1844)

(1845 Rev. George Thomas Chapman – again conducted some services in Lenox)

Samuel T. Carpenter (1846-1847)-of Van Deusenville – one Sunday a month in Lenox

F.A. Foxcraft (1848-1849) – of Van Deusenville – conducted some services in Lenox

Thomas Ruggles Pynchon (1850-1854)

William Henry Brooks (1855-1856)

Samuel P. Parker (1857-1859) – also Stockbridge

Jesse A. Penman (1859-1861)  Samuel Parker’s assistant

Henry A. Yardley (1861-1862)

Justin Field (1862-1890)

William Mercer Grosvenor (1890-1895)


Sources of Information

History of Trinity Church, Lenox, Massachusetts, 1763-1895 by Rev. Charles J. Palmer, John Wilson and Sons University Press, Cambridge, 1895

The Goodness That Doth Crown Our Days, A History of Trinity Parish by John Allen Gable, Lamb Printing, North Adams, MA, 1993


Trinity Church: Establishment and Early Days

10382388_701034836622246_22329675486241370_oBy the turn of the 20th century, the episcopal church in Lenox had  added four grand looking  gilded age buildings to Lenox:  church, chapel, and rectory in Lenox village and St. Helena’s in New Lenox.

Episcopalians Had Uphill Battle in a Congregational State

But the Anglican Church, throughout Massachusetts,  had an uphill battle establishing itself.

The puritan (Congregational) church was, in the early days of Massachusetts, as close to a state church as any would ever be in America.  Puritans had come  to  Massachusetts in 1620 primarily because they objected to the Church of England (the parent religious body of the Episcopal Church in the United States).  In the early days, church and state were totally intermingled as to law, voting and community activities.  By 1700, the puritan theocracy had been largely superseded by secular royal government in Massachusetts.  The royal government, in fact, forced the creation of and tolerance of an Anglican church in Boston.   But the “tilt” to Congregationalism remained in Massachusetts.  By the time the first settlers arrived in Lenox, there were 13 Anglican parishes — all east of Worcester.

As late as 1767, when Lenox was formed, towns were still required to have a church and citizens were taxed to support that church.  It went without saying that the “official” church was the Congregational Church.  To be exempt from paying this tax, a citizen had to be certified to be a member of another “official” church and that was not possible for Anglicans in Lenox until 1793.  The tax for support of the church continued until the new state constitution in 1834.

Although many of Lenox’s early settlers were Anglican, including soon to Revolutionary War heroes, Azariah Egleston and John Paterson,  many tories were also Anglican and growth of the Episcopal church was somewhat retarded during the Revolutionary years due to its ties to England.

At the end of the Revolution the American Anglican Church declared its independence from the Church of England and took on the official title Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.  In due course, American bishops were appointed and the Book of Common Prayer was re-writen to be acceptable in the new United States (among other things, dropping blessings to the king).

Early Services for Anglicans

The wilds of early Berkshire County were territory for missionaries.  There religious needs were met by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts(SPG).  The first Anglican priest to visit Lenox, the Rev. Roger Viets, was SPG from Simsbury, CT.  It was trying work.  He wrote that the people were so poor they could not provide enough to cover the expenses of his long and difficult journey to Lenox and beyond.  In 1764 the beleaguered Rev. Viets was arrested in Great Barrington for conducting a wedding.

Until the first Trinity Church Was Completed in 1818, Services Were Held in Private Homes or The First County Court House

Rev. Gideon Bostwick, also under SPG auspices, became the first resident rector in the Berkshires (stationed in Great Barrington) and conducted regular services in Lenox from 1770 to 1793. In 1774 he mentions key names in the organizing of  Lenox services:  David Perrey, John Whitlock, John Whitlock, Jr., Royce Hall and Eliphalel Fowler.  A Day Book entry from May 19, 1794 lists Samuel Quincy as Clerk, Josh Whitlock and Jesse Bradley as Wardens, Amasa Glezen, Jeremiah Dewey, Issac Goodrich as Choristers.

With the appropriate infrastructure now in place, Lenox area Anglicans organized an official parish in 1793.  It initially included Lenox, Lee, Stockbridge and Pittsfield.  In that same year Deacon Daniel Burbans was hired as rector for Lenox.  He was rector for Lenox and Lanesborough as well as taking up the missionary work of the now deceased Rev. Bostwick throughout the Berkshires.

It is not completely clear where these early Lenox services were conducted in the newly built county court house.  (Then on Walker St.; still standing today on Housatonic).

Rev. Burhans took a position in Newton, Connecticut in 1799 and Lenox engaged the Rev. Gamaliel Thatcher to be shared with Lanesborough. He was followed in 1800 by Rev. Ezra Bradley – also shared with Lanesborough.  In 1801 Lenox reached an agreement to share the services of Rev. Samuel Griswold with Great Barrington.  Rev. Griswold was a nephew of the intrepid Rev. Roger Viets who had conducted the first Anglican services in Lenox.  He led the congregation through the completion of their first church in 1818.  That same year he was dismissed over an unspecified quarrel.

Early Members of Trinity

The Act of Incorporation of 1805 lists the following from Lenox:

Samuel Collins

Selah Cook

David Dunbar

Samuel Dunbar

Azariah Egleston

Moses Geer

Amassa Glezen

John Gregory

Moses Hall

John Hill

Henry Hunford, Jr.

Edward Martindale

Titus Parker

Eleazar Phelps

Samuel Quincy

Stephen Root

David Smith

James Smith

Jonathan Thompson

Thaddeus Thompson

Elijah Treat

John Tyler

William Wells

John Willard

Lenox residents added to the incorporation in 1807:

Salmon Andrews

Abel Avery

Daniel Butler

Jethro Butler, Jr.

David Collins

Stephen Crittenden

Samuel Gray

Edward Hatch

David Hubby

Moses Merwin

Daniel Palley

Samuel Palley, Jr.

Calvin Perry

Joseph Presby

Calvin Sears

Ashbel Sprague

Oliver Stedman

Henry Taylor

Joseph Tucker

Ira Warrener

Warren Warrener

John Whitlock

Daniel Williams

Samuel Wright

Rectors of Trinity Parish (1793-1801)

Daniel Burhans (1793-1799), shared with Lanesborough

Gamaliel Thatcher (1799-1801), one fourth – 3/4 Lanesborough

(Rev. Ezra Bradley also mentioned as sharing with Lanesborough in 1800)


Sources of Information

History of Trinity Church, Lenox, Massachusetts, 1763-1895 by Rev. Charles J. Palmer, John Wilson and Sons University Press, Cambridge, 1895

The Goodness That Doth Crown Our Days, A History of Trinity Parish by John Allen Gable, Lamb Printing, North Adams, MA, 1993