About From the Archives

Trinity Wall Street has played a pivotal role in the religious and civic life of the city and nation since its founding in 1697. In honor of National Archives Month, From the Archives will feature an artifact each day in October. Have a question? Submit it to the Archivist's Mailbag.
Found in the steeple of St. Paul’s Chapel, this 1911 book records the alms given to the poor by William Montague Geer, St. Paul’s vicar.  Geer served as vicar from 1894-1918. This book was discovered by a staff member of St. Paul’s Chapel in 2009. 

Found in the steeple of St. Paul’s Chapel, this 1911 book records the alms given to the poor by William Montague Geer, St. Paul’s vicar.  Geer served as vicar from 1894-1918. This book was discovered by a staff member of St. Paul’s Chapel in 2009. 

Grave of the Tingley brothers in Trinity’s north churchyard.  Four glum cherubs top the stone, likely representing the four sons of Samuel and Agnes Tingley who died in infancy.

Grave of the Tingley brothers in Trinity’s north churchyard.  Four glum cherubs top the stone, likely representing the four sons of Samuel and Agnes Tingley who died in infancy.

In 1845, as the third Trinity Church building was under construction, Trinity purchased four new bells from Charles and George Mears, master founders of the Whitechapel Foundry in London.  The Whitechapel Foundry also cast bells for the second Trinity Church building. 

In 1845, as the third Trinity Church building was under construction, Trinity purchased four new bells from Charles and George Mears, master founders of the Whitechapel Foundry in London.  The Whitechapel Foundry also cast bells for the second Trinity Church building. 

Grave of James Leeson in Trinity’s north churchyard.  
James Leeson’s stone bears a series of patterned dots—a Masonic cryptogram—that, when deciphered, reads, “Remember Death.” Beneath the code are the Masonic symbols of the plumb, the square and compasses, the hour-glass, and a flame rising from a vessel.
The one-time parish periodical, Trinity Record, published the key to the code in 1889.  
James Leeson died September 28, 1794, aged 38. Not much else is known about Leeson.

Grave of James Leeson in Trinity’s north churchyard.  

James Leeson’s stone bears a series of patterned dots—a Masonic cryptogram—that, when deciphered, reads, “Remember Death.” Beneath the code are the Masonic symbols of the plumb, the square and compasses, the hour-glass, and a flame rising from a vessel.

The one-time parish periodical, Trinity Record, published the key to the code in 1889.  

James Leeson died September 28, 1794, aged 38. Not much else is known about Leeson.

List of the bells ordered for the second Trinity Church building in 1797. 
The bells of Trinity Church were cast by the historic Whitechapel Bell foundry of London, which also cast the Liberty Bell and Big Ben. Whitechapel recently cast another bell for Trinity, the Bell of Hope, a gift from the city of London in honor of 9/11. 

List of the bells ordered for the second Trinity Church building in 1797. 

The bells of Trinity Church were cast by the historic Whitechapel Bell foundry of London, which also cast the Liberty Bell and Big Ben. Whitechapel recently cast another bell for Trinity, the Bell of Hope, a gift from the city of London in honor of 9/11. 

1750 elevation drawing of the Trinity School, the first location of King’s College, now known as Columbia University. 
Trinity’s role in the founding of Columbia Univeristy dates to 1752, when the vestry of Trinity Parish agreed to donate land for a new college. In July, 1754, the first class of students entering King’s College was instructed in temporary quarters in the schoolhouse at Trinity Church, located on what is now the south side of Rector Street, approximately midway between Broadway and Trinity Place. On October 31, 1754, Columbia University was founded as Kings College by royal charter of England’s King George II.
In 1760, King’s College moved to its own building on the land donated by Trinity on Park Place, overlooking the Hudson River. Renamed Columbia College in 1784 after the American Revolution, it remained there until 1857, when it relocated to 49th Street and Madison Avenue. The college remained in its midtown location until 1897, when it moved to its current home in Morningside Heights.

1750 elevation drawing of the Trinity School, the first location of King’s College, now known as Columbia University. 

Trinity’s role in the founding of Columbia Univeristy dates to 1752, when the vestry of Trinity Parish agreed to donate land for a new college. In July, 1754, the first class of students entering King’s College was instructed in temporary quarters in the schoolhouse at Trinity Church, located on what is now the south side of Rector Street, approximately midway between Broadway and Trinity Place. On October 31, 1754, Columbia University was founded as Kings College by royal charter of England’s King George II.

In 1760, King’s College moved to its own building on the land donated by Trinity on Park Place, overlooking the Hudson River. Renamed Columbia College in 1784 after the American Revolution, it remained there until 1857, when it relocated to 49th Street and Madison Avenue. The college remained in its midtown location until 1897, when it moved to its current home in Morningside Heights.

The Order of Music from the Consecration Service of the third Trinity Church, held on Ascension Day, 1846. As the order of music notes, the organ was not complete at the time of consecration.

The Order of Music from the Consecration Service of the third Trinity Church, held on Ascension Day, 1846. As the order of music notes, the organ was not complete at the time of consecration.

In the 1890s, newspapers reports accused Trinity Church of being a “slum landlord.”  At the time, high immigration rates were contributing to partitioning and overcrowding of older homes in Lower Manhattan.  Trinity Church did not own all of the buildings the papers accused them of neglecting: many were built on land Trinity owned but had leased out in ground leases.
In response to the criticism, the Church did a survey of conditions in its residence buildings.  They found that the Corporation was the owner of about 148 tenement houses “housing about 2300 souls”.  Some of the buildings were in bad repair and squalor.  They recommended that subletting be discontinued, a limit put on the number of families per building, and that property maintenance procedures be put in place.
This picture, taken as part of this survey, represents “an overcrowded apartment.”
When William Manning became Rector in 1909, he determined to rectify the tenement problem.  He announced:   “I hold that in this matter (i.e., tenement housing) we ought to set not only a high standard, but the very highest.  Far better, if necessary, that all our charities should be given up and all our churches and schools closed than that we should maintain any of them by revenue derived from property in an unsanitary or questionable condition.”

In the 1890s, newspapers reports accused Trinity Church of being a “slum landlord.”  At the time, high immigration rates were contributing to partitioning and overcrowding of older homes in Lower Manhattan.  Trinity Church did not own all of the buildings the papers accused them of neglecting: many were built on land Trinity owned but had leased out in ground leases.

In response to the criticism, the Church did a survey of conditions in its residence buildings.  They found that the Corporation was the owner of about 148 tenement houses “housing about 2300 souls”.  Some of the buildings were in bad repair and squalor.  They recommended that subletting be discontinued, a limit put on the number of families per building, and that property maintenance procedures be put in place.

This picture, taken as part of this survey, represents “an overcrowded apartment.”

When William Manning became Rector in 1909, he determined to rectify the tenement problem.  He announced:   “I hold that in this matter (i.e., tenement housing) we ought to set not only a high standard, but the very highest.  Far better, if necessary, that all our charities should be given up and all our churches and schools closed than that we should maintain any of them by revenue derived from property in an unsanitary or questionable condition.”

Though not the original score, this piece, by former Trinity organist Edward Hodges, was played at the 1846 consecration of the present church, and was consequently known as “The Consecration Service.”

Though not the original score, this piece, by former Trinity organist Edward Hodges, was played at the 1846 consecration of the present church, and was consequently known as “The Consecration Service.”

Though not the original score, this piece, by former Trinity organist Edward Hodges, was played at the 1846 consecration of the present church, and was consequently known as “The Consecration Service.”

Though not the original score, this piece, by former Trinity organist Edward Hodges, was played at the 1846 consecration of the present church, and was consequently known as “The Consecration Service.”