The Parish Sanctuary has had many changes made over it’s many year history but still retains the style and beauty from it’s original design. The latest revisions were made during the building restoration in 1987 when a choir loft that was added in 1947 was removed and the pipes for the organ were again in their place. The walls are as originally designed with battens, plaster and a canvas covering. The Sanctuary has five stained glass windows along each wall as well as others throughout the building. The sanctuary pews hold 120 – 150 people and the sanctuary is acoustically superb for performers.
The social room of the church is in the basement and is called the Undercroft. This space was added in 1968 when the old Guildhall building was demolished and the church was raised to allow for the basement to be dug and space in the back was added for classrooms. The upstairs portion of the addition houses the offices and chapel of the church. The undercroft has kitchen facilities and is capable of seating up to 120 people for dining.
Next to the church on Hurlbut Street is our lovely garden, with flowers, trees, benches, and an altar for occasional outdoor services in the summer months.
Holy Trinity is available for weddings and funerals, as well as for general community use. There is usually a fee involved to help cover the costs of utilities and clean-up. Contact the church office with any questions you might have.
The Episcopal Church entered a new missionary phase when the General Convention of 1835 called for the consecration of bishops to travel to the West and establish the Episcopal Church.
The first settlers in the area known as Belvidere, in the new state of Illinois, came in 1836, building homes on the banks of the Kishwaukee River. As in most migrations of those years, most settlers were of Yankee or Anglo-Saxon stock, and were considered a fertile field for early missionary endeavors of the first Bishop of Illinois, Philander Chase.
It was during 1842 that Belvidere received the first Episcopal Visitation, although there was not, as yet, an organized congregation in the town. The second visit came the following year, 1843. Bishop Chase arrived in Belvidere on the fourth of October, having ridden horseback from Chicago to Elgin, and then on to Belvidere.
In 1850 the Journals of the Diocese of Illinois reported that a Deacon, the Rev. S.D. Pulford was on the Clergy List as serving at Belvidere and was accorded a seat in the Convention. “…to which place, through a most lovely country of cultivated farms, irrigated by the limpid and meandering stream of the Kishwaukee, we arrived in good health and held divine service in the Methodist Church at 11 A.M. I administered the rite of confirmation to four persons, and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to a goodly number. The Rev. S.D. Pulford, Deacon, (now a Presbyter) and graduate of Jubill College, Illinois and missionary of the Diocesan Society has charge of this interesting parish: by all of whom he is highly esteemed and much beloved. …The remaining number of his friends tremble at the thoughts of failure in their attempt to erect an Episcopal Church… If the Lord will there shall be a church here…There are a few…who have not defiled their garments with idolatry to wealth…some, I trust, will assist Mr. Pulford in erecting a church in Belvidere.”
By 1857 The Rev. Edmund B. Tuttle was listed as rector and “Trinity Church, Belvidere, was admitted into union with this Convention”. “…The building was erected and nearly finished, even in the absence of any clergyman for six years. It is a Gothic structure, of wood, with stained glass windows. A bell, font, organ and parish library are much needed.”
In 1858 the delegates at the Convention were Samuel Rockwood and Noah Merchant (these can be considered Trinity’s first lay representation.) “It is proper to state that the three-fold increase of this parish during the past year is owing, in a great measure, to the blessing of God upon my labours in searching out many Church of England families on the prairie near “Shattuck’s Grove” distant six miles from town.”
From the Bishop Whitehouse Visitation Diary: January 29, 1858, “at Belvidere, where the Rev. Edmund B. Tuttle, from the Diocese of Maryland, is working faithfully and with success, assisted by an accomplished wife, with long training as an instructor, he has opened a female school worthy of the attention of all obliged to send daughters from home for education, should the patronage warrant the continuance of it.”
On Trinity Sunday, May 30, 1858, Trinity Church, Belvidere was consecrated by Bishop Whitehouse. The Bishop’s Visitation Diary reveals “Besides the Rector there were present Rev. Orrin Miller and Rev. A. Smedes from Wisconsin. I … confirmed fourteen…The building is in good taste and of ample size…”
By 1861 the Parish had obtained the use “of a fine organ and bell, the cost of the transportation of which from New York, and putting up amounted to almost $150.”
The future was very bleak by 1862 when reports were “the parish has suffered so much from the state of the times, that its very existence has become imperiled: and unless Missionary aid be extended to it, it cannot fulfill its pecuniary obligations or support public worship”. The Bishop’s Diary for that time reads, “The church at Belvidere feels the general depression.” But by 1865 the church was free of debt “..the removal of this encumbrance, may lead, I trust, to a revived confidence, and a more vigorous fulfillment of corporate duty. …The parish is poor, however, and cannot do what it would wish to do. Much ground has been lost which will require time, faith, energy, and perseverance to recover.” The Bishop’s Diary reported “the parish, which, from singular weakness and depressed resources, is lifting itself well up in distinct works of advance”.
Boone County was part of the newly created Northern Deanery by 1868. The Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed some records then kept in Chicago. Later in 1877, the Diocese of Illinois was divided into three Dioceses.
Hard times arrived again and in 1873 the church was closed and for twenty years the parish remained inactive. “The doors and windows of the church building were boarded tight and the children of the community spoke of it as the “haunted church”. In 1893, a band of faithful churchmen united in reopening the parish and Dean Peabody conducted evening services.” A year later, the Rev. J. O. O’Meara came as resident priest and soon an addition named the “Guild Hall” was added “to serve the parish faithfully for it’s Church School and social activities” until 1962 when it was torn down to make way for a new addition.
The 1912 the ordination of the Rev. Gerald Grattan Moore as Vicar must have been quite a day for Belvidere. “Admission to the ordination and confirmation was by ticket because of the large crowds. Forty-two men, women and children were presented for confirmation that day. Father Moore not only took charge of the growing mission but was active in the community affairs as well. He organized the first Boy Scout Troop in Belvidere as well as a troop of Camp Fire Girls.”
In August of 1925 the church was damaged by fire. “It was said that Father Crossman had been campaigning for a new church and that after the fire, he make sure that people knew that he was with other people somewhere else when the fire began!” After the fire, the church was remodeled and redecorated. It was also while Father Crossman was Vicar that the Mission purchased property adjoining the Guild Hall for use as a Vicarage.
Following World War II, in 1947, the mission became a Parish. That year a very fine pipe organ was given to the church by Mrs. Gustavus F. Swift of Chicago and was dedicated May 29, 1947. Funds for its installation were given by members and friends of Trinity Church. On Trinity Sunday, 1947, The Rev. Frederick Wolf was instituted as the first Rector of The Church of the Holy Trinity.
The Rev. Darwin Benjamin Bowers came to Holy Trinity in 1950 during a period where the interior of the building was extensively redecorated and in 1960 The Rev. Carl R. Bloom lead the parish through a building program which produced a Parish Hall and Christian Education unit.
In 1987, parish Rector, The Rev. Thomas P. Rosa, and the vestry began a capital fund drive to begin very badly needed restoration work on the building. During the first phase the stucco that had been added was removed, the tower, which was so damaged by water it was leaning away from the building, was rebuilt and support beams for the foundation had to be replaced as was the roof. As the first phase of work was nearing completion, a lightning strike and fire in 1989 caused a lot of smoke and water damage to the sanctuary, social room and the pipe organ.
After a few weeks using neighboring church space, an unused church across from the parish rectory was purchased and donated to Holy Trinity, was renamed the Guild Hall in memory of the earlier building at Holy Trinity, and became the new parish home for the next year while repairs were completed.
Several times during the history of Holy Trinity, discussions were held about building a new building but both finances and the already impressive history of the building caused the decision to renovate the existing building each time.
On Easter Vigil 1990 the parish returned to the Gothic Revival structure that has been home to Holy Trinity since 1858 and was dedication and consecrated in 1991 by Bishop Griswold. In 1991, an organ built by the Wicks Pipe Organ Company of Highland, Illinois, and designed by Madison Lindsey and Troy Scott of Pipe Organ Specialties of Oxford, Mississippi, was installed in the former pipe organ loft.
“The history of this parish could not be written were it not for the great love of the Lord and His Church displayed by generation after generation of lay people, the joys and sorrows of the past are but the seed for the future. May this parish rededicate itself to the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity and once more set out to serve the Lord of the harvest in this new day.”
Thomas O’Connell, Junior
Architecture of Holy Trinity
The church is a board and batten, Gothic Revival Structure, unique in the area as the only known remaining example of this architectural form. Restoration began in 1988 on the exterior, but a lightning strike and fire in the spring of 1989 caused much additional restoration work to be done. These years of restoration have brought the church back to its best.
Bishop Philander Chase & Son, Rev. Dudley Chase 1842
The Rev. Alfred Louderback 1845
The Rev. Deacon S. P. Pulfred 1850
The Rev. Edmond B. Tuttle 1853
The Rev. Julius H. Waterbury 1859
The Rev. Isaac P. Labagh 1860
The Rev. J. S. McGowan. Deacon 1863
The Rev. William H. Cooper 1865
The Rev. H. Yeator
The Rev. W. H. Eddy 1872
The Rev. A. W. Glass 1873
Church Closed 1874 – 1894
The Rev. J. O’Meara 1894
The Rev. C. A. Cummings 1895
The Rev. J. S. Mahood 1906
The Rev. A. L. Bumpus 1909
The Rev. Gerald Grattan Moore 1912
The Rev. Garth E. W. Sibbald 1917
The Rev. Merrill Otis Gruber 1921
The Rev. F. H. Burrell 1922
The Rev. Walter P. Crossman 1923
The Rev. A. E. Johnstone 1926
The Rev. John H. Scambler 1928
The Rev. John S. Cole 1932
The Rev. Robert K. Giffin 1933
The Rev. Thermon Eldridge Johnson 1933
The Rev. Harold Griffith Holt 1936
The Rev. Lyman B. Howes 1941
The Rev. Ralph Turner Milligan 1941
The Rev. Philip Leslie Shutt 1943
The Rev. Frederick Barton Wolf 1946
The Rev. Darwin Benjamin Bowers 1950
The Rev. Carl R. Bloom 1960
The Rev. John Winston Biggs 1968
The Rev. Hanner Interim 1973
The Rev. Thomas Phillip Rosa 1974-2001
The Rev. Judy Hipple, Assistant 1996-1999
The Rev. Joseph Ponic, Priest-in-Charge 2002-2002
The Rev. Randall H. Haycock, Priest-in-Charge 2002-2007
The Rev. Dr. Joyce E. Beaulieu 2008-2012
The Rev. Dr. Robert Grindrod, Interim Rector, 2012-2014
The Rev. Randal J. Wakitsch 2015-