About the Church
In 1858, Grace Church was planted at the corner of Foushee and Main Streets in the “near west end.” In 1874, Holy Trinity Church was planted a bit farther west, just across from Monroe Park, in what was then the “far west end.” Holy Trinity – originally called Moore Memorial Chapel – was established as a memorial to Bishop Richard Channing Moore, who led the revitalization of the Episcopal Church in Virginia in the 19th century.
In 1924, Grace Church and Holy Trinity Church merged. As Richmond grew into a major metropolis, Grace & Holy Trinity Church has found itself in the heart of the city. We enjoy the challenges and opportunities that this strategic location offers.
A strong music ministry and an abiding commitment to service and outreach have long been hallmarks of our church. Grace & Holy Trinity unites people from across the metropolitan area as they come for worship and education each Sunday, enjoy fellowship over a hot breakfast, and work together in a variety of ministries throughout the week.
Learn More About Our Art and Architecture
The Holy Trinity building, completed in about 1894, contained a mechanical-action Hook & Hastings organ. When Holy Trinity and Grace Churches merged in 1924, Hook & Hastings enlarged the organ, using their new electro-pneumatic action to operate the existing windchests. Evidently the original windchests had problems, so that by World War II, the organ needed to be rebuilt and enlarged. The console shell was retained, and most of the pipes were replaced with ventil windchests.
By the 1970s the ventil chests and the console were beginning to show their age. In 1979, a new Austin organ was installed and the Hook & Hastings was sold. After the initial installation, additions were made through the years, such as the Trompette en Chamade in the back.
This Gallery Trumpet, installed in 1996, was made possible by a gift in memory of Richard Caswell Cooke, Sallie Lewis Broaddus and Gray Massie Broaddus. Around this time, the console also was converted from electro-mechanical combination action to solid-state. However, the work was entrusted to different firms at different times, each using the type of action they preferred. The result was a confusing array of devices that were not fully compatible. Lewis & Hitchcock recommended converting the organ to one system of operation, and in 2004 the console was removed to their factory, where it was fitted with a new system designed by the Peterson Electro-Musical Company of Chicago, Illinois. All the information is sent from the console over an ethernet cable. Each organist has a data bank available to keep combinations, which may be locked. The organ system software is updated regularly. In 2008 a gift in memory of Freda Hatcher Rollings was made for a moveable organ console. This makes our wonderful organ more accessible to the community.
The prestigious Tiffany Studios of New York made the window on the north aisle of the church that depicts an angel. Opalescent glass, which transmits light but is not transparent, was used instead of clear glass. Tiffany archives our window simply as “angel window.”
The window depicts an angel in flight playing an elongated trumpet. The angel’s garment is depicted with folds and feathers skillfully developed by a combination of details within the glass and the leaden strips. The designer chose to place the tips of the wings beneath the elaborate Gothic canopy and the trumpet in front of it.
The window was installed in 1905. It was given by Mrs. Byrd Warwick in memory of her husband, Byrd Warwick (1848-1894), and her son, Byrd Warwick, Jr., (1878-1901), who died while a student at the University of Virginia.
The window is inscribed: Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God.
Reflection Questions for the Angel Window
The next time you have a quiet moment in the church, look at the Angel Window up close, and ponder these questions:
- Notice the angel’s elongated trumpet. The long trumpet represents the call for the general resurrection. In what story in Scriptures did angels announce a resurrection?
- By tradition, the Archangel Gabriel will make the call for general resurrection. Gabriel is typically depicted as a handsome young man. What other angels can you name?
- Look closely to see how the artist crafted the details of the angel’s garment. In Scriptural references to angels, how are their garments described? What color are they?
This window, a gift of Thomas Nelson Page, is by Franz Mayer of Munich, Inc. It is the only window in the nave signed by the maker (lower right corner). Although the exact date of the window’s installation is unknown, Mr. Page was given approval of the vestry in November 1889 to install it.
Franz Mayer of Munich, Inc., is a studio founded in 1847 by Joseph Gabriel Mayer (1808-1883) as the “Institute for Christian Art.” The first overseas branch of the studio opened in London in 1865, and in 1888 a branch opened in New York City, bringing the company to full international status. In 1892, Pope Leo XIII named the company a “Pontifical Institute of Christian Art.” Today the company is managed by Gabriel Mayer (b. 1938) and his son Michael C. Mayer (b. 1967), who is the fifth generation.
Dorcas is depicted under a fanciful gothic canopy, distributing food and clothes to the poor. Dorcas was a widow who lived in Joppa and was raised from the dead by Saint Peter; she was known for her acts of charity (The Acts of the Apostles 9:36-42).
The Dorcas window is dedicated to Anne Page, the youngest daughter of Charles and Sarah Seddon Bruce, who died unexpectedly at the age of 21, about two years after her marriage to Thomas Nelson Page (1853-1922). She is buried in Hollywood Cemetery.
Mrs. Page was described by her husband as “a very beautiful and accomplished lady,” and he praised her for helping him in his “literary work.” Mr. Page was a lawyer and also wrote stories about life in the Old South. He was elected to the vestry of Holy Trinity in 1890; in later life, he served as Ambassador to Italy during the administration of Woodrow Wilson.
The window is inscribed: “The King’s daughter is all glorious within.”
Reflections Questions for the Dorcas Window
The next time you have a quiet moment in the church, look at the Dorcas Window up close, and ponder these questions:
- How does Grace and Holy Trinity Church carry on the charitable spirit of Dorcas?
- By what other name is Dorcas known?
- What was so special about Dorcas that her friends took the extraordinary step to seek out St. Peter with a plea to raise her from the dead?
- What did Dorcas leave as her legacy?
- Read and reflect on the Dorcas story (Acts 9:36-43).
Murals behind the altar
For more than 80 years, four murals have graced the walls at the back of our chancel (behind the altar). Painted in Gothic Revival style by Frederick Auguste Benzenberg, they depict (from left to right) the Annunciation to Mary, the Nativity, the women at Jesus’ tomb, and the Ascension.
Done on canvas, our murals were applied to our walls by the Gorham Company in 1929. They are a memorial gift honoring Col. John W. Gordon from his children. Col. Gordon also gave two of our stained glass windows (on the south wall) and helped raise the money for the new stone church in the 1880s.
In 1947 a leak developed in the roof over the Ascension panel and badly damaged it. Vestry minutes from December 1948 reveal that after much searching, Benzenberg was located and then hired to paint a replacement panel, which was installed in 1949.
Before the age of air conditioning, outdoor air from open windows allowed in dirt that damaged the murals. In 2002, art cleaners were hired to restore them. Fun fact: When a variety of chemicals failed to clean the murals, one cleaner swabbed a Q-tip in her mouth and was surprised to find the saliva removed the soot. The murals were then cleaned with synthetic saliva!
Reflections Questions for the Murals
The next time you have a quiet moment in the church, look at these beautiful paintings up close, and ponder these questions:
- What symbol of the Holy Spirit is seen in the Annunciation mural?
- How is Mary dressed in the Annunciation and Nativity murals? Does she look the same?
- What background do you see that reflects the Gothic Revival style?
- What is the source of light in the murals? What might this suggest about the artist’s intention?
- What do you notice about the angels in the paintings?
General history of the building
The Moore Memorial Church was established in 1874 by the members of Saint James’s Church, then on Fifth Street at the corner of Marshall. They purchased a lot on Laurel Street facing Monroe Park and erected a frame building at a cost of $8,000. The new church commemorated the legacy of the Rt. Rev. Richard Channing Moore, a longtime bishop of the Diocese of Virginia. The first service was held in the church on July 24, 1874.
A larger structure was soon required, and B. J. Black (1834-1892), a Richmond architect, was hired to design it. Black projected a building 59 by 119 feet, seating 1,000, with an interior height of 70 feet and a spire reaching 160 feet. Stone for the church came from James Netherwood’s quarry along today’s Riverside Drive in south Richmond.
The first service was held in the new church on January 1, 1888. Though the nave was completed, there were insufficient funds to finish the façade, and a temporary board front was constructed.
By that time, architect Black had died. The building committee contacted New York architect J. Stewart Barney (1868-1925), a Richmond native whose late mother had been a member of Moore Memorial Church. He agreed not to charge for his services provided a memorial plaque to his mother was erected. If such a plaque existed, it has now been removed. Barney was engaged in February 1894, and the vestry determined that the church would be known as the Church of the Holy Trinity, a memorial to Bishop Moore.
Barney’s “late French Gothic” design was dominated by a 110-foot tower, featuring what is probably the largest belfry of any Richmond church; notably, it has never housed a bell.
The tower stood directly in the path of a tornado that struck city in May 1951. The pinnacle of the tower unfortunately needed to be removed; former rector Hill Brown referred to this as the church’s “crew cut.”
One of the few ornaments on the front of the building is the gargoyle positioned where the rounded interior stairwell intersects with the front wall. This one is purely decorative; the originals, hundreds of years ago, served as waterspouts.
The consolidation with Grace Church, formerly at Main and Foushee streets, took place on June 1, 1924, at the Laurel Street location. The merger meant a need for more Sunday School space. Architects Baskervill & Lambert provided plans for a new parish house on the north side of the church building. It opened in 1929, its façade a virtual match with the rest of the church building. The parish house was designated a memorial to Dr. Gravatt, who died just after the church consolidation. “Gravatt Memorial” is inscribed between the first and second story windows of the addition’s façade.
Continued growth brought the need for more parking, which was made possible in the 1980s by a small land acquisition and the demolition of an old parish hall. A new parish hall was added in 1983; it was designed by Glave, Newman & Anderson in a contemporary style considered appropriate for the era. The Parish Hall was renovated in 2016.
Save your people, O Lord, and bless your inheritance.