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Historical Materials: Gloucester Buildings & Businesses

Historical Materials  »  Gloucester Buildings & Businesses  »  Trinity Congregational Church (Middle Street at School)

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Trinity Congregational Church (Middle Street at School)

View related Fitz Henry Lane catalog entries (8) »

The Trinity Congregational Church, visible in Lane paintings such as Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38), was built in 1831, during the time of the reconstruction of downtown Gloucester after the devastating 1830 fire. But this church was not built to replace one lost in that conflagration. It was built to house a large faction of the original First Parish Church (the four -pointed square tower visible in several paintings, just to the east on Middle Street) that was dismayed by the Unitarian drift of the parish. The rise of Unitarianism, and the hiring of new ministers with that leaning, caused those who continued to embrace the older Puritan, Calvinist, Congregational beliefs to secede and form their own church.  It was a split between the more radical, newer element of the Unitarians and those who wished to maintain their older, Trinitarian roots.   

The minister of the Trinitarian church in 1852 was James Aiken, who did not stay in town long.  Nor did the building serve long as a church. In 1854, the building was sold, cut in half, and moved.  Both halves now stand on Mason Street, facing south, across School Street from the Central Fire Station.

A second Trinity Congregational Church, with a steeple higher than any other in town, was immediately erected on same site in 1854. This 153-foot, octagonal steeple, visible in Gloucester from Steepbank, c.1855 (inv. 125) was removed in 1865. The church building was totally destroyed by fire in July 1979. A third church stands on the site today.

Current address: 70 Middle Street at the corner of  School Street. However, the building that appears in pre-1854 Lane works was cut in half and moved to 2–8 Mason Street.

– Sarah Dunlap (August, 2013)

Related tables: Unitarian Church / First Parish Church (Middle Street) »

photo (historical)
Trinity Congregational Church at Middle Street
August 1875
Glass plate negative
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
1854 Cape Ann Advertiser 4.?.1854

On Middle St., the building of the new Orthodox Church will soon be commenced.  …we understand that the church when completed, will be the finest in the country.  It is to be surmounted by a steeple higher than any other in town, and will be a prominent land mark.  The contractors, Messrs. Smith & Babson, are young and enterprising mechanics, and will spare no pains to render the completion of the edifice as perfect and handsome as can be accomplished.  The old church having been cut in two, and moved back on Mason Street, is being fitted up, and will be made into two large double dwelling houses.  Another building has also been moved into this street and is being fitted up for a dwelling house.

Citation: "Gloucester Buildings & Businesses." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum.§ion=Trinity+Congregational+Church+%28Middle+Street+at+School%29&ref=catalog:125 (accessed July 20, 2024).
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