As one of the oldest churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, Trinity has a long and rich history.
Trinity Episcopal Church's first parish was established in 1831, with the Rev. John O'Brien making plans to build a church which was completed in late 1833. The original church was built of wood and was subject to a devastating fire on March 18, 1868 that reduced the wooden church to ashes.
The baptismal font located at the front of the church is the only item salvaged from the fire still used today at Trinity. It is engraved "A Father's Gift for Clarecne," with a spelling error of the name "Clarence." In addition to the baptismal font, the Christ Child window is also given in memory of Clarence Clarke, the child whose name the font bears.
Prior to the reconstruction of the building after the fire, the church purchased a home from Francis Navarre for its rectors to reside in. Around 1867, the parish sold the property to Dr. A.I. Saywer, who razed the house and built the Italiante-style home now known as "The Sawyer Homestead." The home is now located at 320 East Front Street, Monroe, Michigan 48161.
After the ruinous fire, the church was rebuilt out of stone. The first cornerstone of the present-day church was laid on June 24, 1868 and the church commenced services in the fall of 1869.
Prior to the construction of the new church, Trinity's rectors lived in a rectory offsite. The church has since had four different rectories since its inception. The current rectory was built in 1898, with its first occupants being the Rev. John Evans and his family.
Conversations surrounding building a parish hall for Trinity began around 1889, but the actual completion of the addition was finalized in 1898, along with the rectory. The hall was the center for nearly all parish functions for the next 58 years. In 1940, it was decided that a larger parish hall needed to be built. World War II intervened with this plan and the building was postponed until 1956, where a groundbreaking ceremony was held on March 25 of that year.
The parish hall built in 1889 now serves as the church's library and private meeting room.
On Saturday, May 14, 2014, Trinity Episcopal Church was declared a historical site with a State of Michigan Historical Marker Dedication ceremony taking place on the grounds.
An unveiling and reading of the marker took place, with an open house following in the Parish Hall.
Below is the full text on the marker.
Front Text - "The Revered John O'Brien became Monroe's first Episcopal rector in late 1831. Early the next year, he and his small congregation began building Trinity Church on what is now Loranger Square. Funds came from Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, as well as the congregation. The first service in the wood-frame church was held on February 3, 1833. Before daylight in March 18, 1868, a disastrous fire that engulfed part of Monroe's business district destroyed the church. The congregation turned to Gordon W. Lloyd to design this church, which includes one of the few items saved from the fire, the baptismal font. The cornerstone was laid on June 24, 1868, and services began in the fall of 1869."
Back Text - "Trinity Episcopal Church features locally quarried Monroe Limestone and Sandusky Bluestone. The press noted 'bright sunshine streaming through the richly stained windows in a flood of mellow light' at its February 1, 1871 dedication. The windows honor early parishioners; most were designed by George L. Burns [one of the first stained-glass artists in Buffalo, New York]. The three-paneled Smith window in the front of the church celebrated Major Henry Smith, who died in 1847 in the Mexican War, and his brother, General Joseph Smith, who served in that war and the Civil War. The Smith Windows, damaged by a storm, were replaced by Tiffany Studios with 'Supper at Emmaus' in 1910. The church added a parish hall and rectory in 1898 and the new parish hall in 1956."
The Rev. John O'Brien, Trinity's first rector