Trinity Parish maintains two church complexes that are about three miles apart, both of which are listed on the National Historic Register. Worshiping in these beautiful spaces connects us with the past, present, and future - or as we like to say, these spaces embody our 300 years of faith in the city.
As a parish, we are committed to preserving these historic buildings with continued financial support through our annual budget, supplemented by outside grants when possible. We have a full-time property manager who works with a lay committee to oversee all property improvements. The vestry has recently commissioned a special committee to identify our long-term facility needs and ways to address them.
Dating from 1698, Old Swedes church is located near the site of the original Swedes' landing and represents one of only two remaining examples of Swedish-American church architecture. Sitting in the center of a tree-shaded, historic graveyard, the church has box-type pews, which seat approximately 250 persons when the gallery is used. The surrounding neighborhood is a mix of low-income housing and light industry.
Additional information about Old Swedes Church and Cemetery may be found on the on the Old Swedes website. http://www.oldswedes.org/
Built in 1890 and located in the heart of Wilmington, Trinity Church is a traditional English Gothic structure that seats approximately 300 people and contains a number of Tiffany and other stained-glass windows, the earliest dating from 1890. The neighborhood immediately adjacent to the church is a mix of high-rise office buildings, apartments, and turn-of-the-century houses, some of which have been restored or renovated, but many of which have not.
Trinity Church is designed in the English Gothic tradition; its architect was Theophilus P. Chandler, Jr. of Philadelphia. The cost of the Church, exclusive of the tower and spire, was $45,569.71. The exterior walls are constructed of rough dressed Avondale stone as is the low ornamental wall surrounding the Church. The interior view of the high, steeped roof displays an unusual architectural feature: the hammer beams, the short cantilevered timbers supporting the wooden arches, are hand carved angels.
In 1911, the attached Parish House and (old) Rectory was completed, based on plans by the architectural firm of Frank Miles Day & Bro. of Philadelphia. In that same year, the Caen stone altar and reredos and the wainscoting with sedilia and the Bishop's chair within the Sanctuary were installed as a memorial gift. This stonework and the carved choir and clergy stalls of fumed oak were designed by Day Brothers and Klauder of Philadelphia. The carving of all the stonework and stalls was executed by John Maene and Co., sculptors.
The stone pulpit was given as a memorial in 1913, and the tower and spire were completed in 1925. The memorial set of tower chimes is composed of twelve bells cast by the Meneely Bell Foundry of Watervliet, New York, of purest bell-metal bronze. The total weight of the bells is 10,700 pounds while the frame and mountings add another 4,500 pounds. Restored in 1974, the chimes can be played from the organ or a separate console, electrically connected with the bells in the tower. The carved stone Baptismal font is dated 1872, and it is assumed that it was moved to the New Church from the Trinity Chapel at Fifth and King. The Austin organ, opus #1619, was erected in 1928 and renovated in 1975 with over 700 new pipes, a new console, an entire re-actioning, and numerous innovations.
The stained glass window in the Sanctuary and the five windows in the North and South Transcepts were made in the Tiffany Studios in New York and date from 1890 to 1900. The Tiffany windows depict the following:
Art metalwork in Trinity Church includes the solid brass lamps hanging above the front door (1893) and the Lectern (1900). The Lectern also is worked in solid brass with a bronze eagle. It was a memorial gift of a Trinity Vestryman, Samuel C. Biddle, in 1892. Samuel Biddle was married to his wife, Ella, on June 1, 1891, the first wedding in the New Church. Ella and her infant son died in the Spring of 1892.
In 1949, plans were made for the expansion and alteration of the Parish House and for construction of a chapel. This addition was designed by Victorine and Samuel Homsey, Wilmington architects, and was completed in May 1953. "The Chapel of the Transfiguration" was consecrated in January 1955. The five memorial windows, designed and executed by Wilbur Herbert Burnham of Boston, illustrate events in the life of Jesus as they pertain to Christ's Transfiguration. Proceeding from the window opposite the entrance from the Narthex to the Altar, the scenes are as follows:
In the lobby of the Parish House is a painting of Old Swedes Church by Bayard Berndt. In the background are a cluster of houses and the Christina River, evoking the 17th century origins of Trinity Parish today.
In 2010, Trinity Church underwent major rennovations. The exterior renovations consisted of providing grade level access to the main entrances, refurbishing and reworking the parking area, elevating the office entrance to remove interior stairs and constructing new raised stone walls, flagstone walks and granite curbs to match the existing. The entrance doors were also refurbished and automated for handicap access. A new electric entrance service was installed.
The interior renovations consisted of a new HVAC system in the Church and Chapel designed for even air distribution thru a perimeter wainscot and updating the office and dining area air-conditioning. The sanctuary floor was reinforced, marble flooring was installed in the sanctuary and the pews were removed for new movable Cathedral seating. A new automatic limited access elevator was installed and the nursery was relocated and updated.
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