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Trinity Episcopal Church

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1878–1879; A. C. Nash. 1898. 430 Juliana St. (southeast side of Juliana St., between 4th and 5th sts.)

The form nominating this stone Victorian Gothic church to the National Register of Historic Places describes the facade as “an unusual example of a common ecclesiastical style.” In no discernible order, the overly confused design includes short and tall turrets, large and small rose windows, and a singularly unnecessary flying buttress. Entrance is not through the tower base, as might be expected, but through a slightly projecting gabled entry below the buttress. When the church was consecrated in 1879, the Parkersburg Sentinel described it as “a parallelogram in shape, modified Gothic in style, 88 feet long by 46 feet wide.” The paper also informed its readers that the stone trim was Ohio sandstone from Constitution, Ohio, and the foundation from the local Prospect Hill quarry. It described the interior as “extremely neat and plain, yet rich, the woodwork being of native Virginia pine.” In spite of its architectural idiosyncrasies, the church has undeniable charm. The interior, now an even longer parallelogram after an 1898 extension, has an open hammer-beam ceiling, Victorian stained glass, ranks of organ pipes, and Gothic woodwork. These elements combine to form a period piece par excellence.

A mansard-roofed, Second Empire parish house with a decorative cast iron porch adjoins the church at the south corner of Juliana and 5th streets. It was built as the rectory in 1863. To the rear of the parish house, facing 5th Street, is the Gothic Revival Trinity Hall, which was completed in 1881.

At the time Trinity was under construction, the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia had just been formed. The church offered the diocese a house for the bishop, and Reverend George W. Peterkin accepted. He arrived in Parkersburg in 1878. During his thirty-seven-year residence, Trinity served unofficially as the cathedral, though parishioners at St. Matthew's Church in Wheeling ( WH6) might disagree.

Writing Credits

Author: 
S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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