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Trinity Episcopal Church

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1865, John Henry Hopkins; 1891 sacristy and choir room. 85 West St., City of Rutland
  • (Photograph by Curtis B. Johnson, C. B. Johnson Photography)

As Rutland's center of activity shifted from the old green along Main Street to the commercial district developing nearer the railroad, the Episcopal parish decided to replace one church designed by their bishop (a frame structure on Main Street, built by John Cain in 1833) with another that was better located and more substantial. Hopkins, Vermont's first Episcopal bishop, rector in Rutland from 1860 to 1862, and presiding bishop of the national church from 1865 to 1868, was an important figure in the promotion of Gothic Revival in the United States. A confirmed Gothicist, he had engaged in church design as early as 1823. Aware of his own deficiencies as an aspiring architect of Gothic Revival and distressed by what he regarded as uncouth combinations of classic and Gothic forms in church architecture, he began reading about and collecting engravings of English Gothic. After Hopkins arrived in Vermont in 1832 he found himself in a good position to advise the state's parishes about construction projects. In 1836, he published Essay on Gothic Architecture, the first American treatise on the subject. In it Hopkins drew heavily upon British publications with illustrations that incorporated motifs from Henry VII's Chapel to Fonthill Abbey. He stressed the importance of stone construction, warm colors, natural woods, and stained glass. Aside from an altar and reredos for the (demolished) cathedral in Burlington and the demolished first Trinity Church here in the city, he seems not to have been actively involved in architecture in Vermont until after 1856. Then, in rapid succession, Hopkins designed additions to St. Paul's (1857) and a Collegiate Gothic home for the Vermont Episcopal Institute (1860) in Burlington (both burned), and at least two extant parish churches (RU6), of which Rutland's Trinity Church is the larger and shows its author's study of the medieval roots of the style.

The building is granite rubble stone with dressed granite buttresses and door and window frames. Symmetrical in plan, the tower is centered on the facade. The door in this tower is an adjustment of 1890. Hopkins, who preferred to have worshippers enter directly into the aisles, placed his entrances in small towers attached to each corner of the facade, enhancing the church's picturesque qualities. Stepped, pinnacle-topped buttresses mark the building's corners and sides, and splayed door and window openings enhance a sense of substantiality. He used lancet openings of varying sizes, a rose window in the tower, corbel tables beneath the eaves, and, inside, an elaborate hammer-beam ceiling.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Trinity Episcopal Church", [Rutland, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 76-76.

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