The first Trinity Church building, constructed in 1698, was modest with a small porch. Scottish sailor, Captain William Kidd lent the runner and tackle from his ship for hoisting the stones. The rent for the property was 60 bushels of wheat a year. In 1697, King William III gave Trinity Church a charter that called for the church to pay a yearly rent of one peppercorn to the crown of England. Over the years the church fell behind on the rent and in 1976 exactly 279 peppercorns were given to Queen Elizabeth II as a symbolic back rent.
In 1709, before the steeple held bells, classes were held in the steeple of the church as a part of Trinity School founded by William Huddleston. The church was destroyed in the Great New York City Fire of 1776, and was rebuilt in 1788. This version of the church had steeple with bells instead of a classroom. The bells were brought over in 1797 from Europe. The bells still exist today and are some of the oldest church bells in the United States. Severe snow storms weakened the structure and it was demolished in 1838.
The third and current Trinity Church was finished in 1846 and cost $90,000. At the time, the spire and cross were the highest point in New York until 1890 when the New York World Building was completed. The church was adorned with an impressive set of bronze doors that were conceived by Richard Morris Hunt and funded by William Waldorf Astor. Each door has six panels, the panels on the north and east door depict the Church’s history and the Bible. The south door tells the story of New York City.
Alexander Hamilton, William Bradford, Franklin Wharton, Robert Fulton, Captain James Lawrence and Albert Gallatin are all buried in the main Trinity Church cemetery. The church has two other cemeteries that are offsite, which also serve as a final resting place for many historical figures. Today, Trinity Church has a very rich music program with an annual budget of over $2.5 million. It also serves as a museum with history, art, religious and cultural exhibits. You can take a guided tours of the church, offered daily at 2 PM.
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