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Episcopal Church

Trinity's History

 “The birthday of Trinity Church, Portland (formerly of Chatham) was on September 24th, 1788, when thirty seven men met in the old Wilcox house on Crow Hill and signed a document which is called the Original Agreement Towards the Formation of a Parish”.  (History of Trinity Church, Julia Norton McLean) 

The Parish of Trinity Church was legally organized on April 17, 1789. The Parish worshipped in various private homes until the first edifice was completed in 1790, located at the corner of Bartlett and High Streets.  The Reverend Abraham Jarvis, D. D., who was Rector of Christ Church, now Holy Trinity of Middletown, was the first (part-time) parish priest. The second Rector was Tilloston Bronson, who also served both Trinity and Holy Trinity from 1791 to 1793.  Reverend Jarvis served again as Rector for both the Portland and Middletown congregations from 1793 to 1795,  when Reverend Smith Miles was called to Portland.  In 1797 Reverend Jarvis became the second Bishop of Connecticut.

For more on the history of the Jarvis Family, click on these links:




The second church edifice was erected on the site of our present church building at 345 Main Street and was completed in 1832.  The Bartlett Street building was sold to the Town of Chatham (now Portland) and was used as the Town Hall for a number of years. 

 "About 1870 there seems to have been a very urgent desire for a new Church, although the old one was barely forty years old.  In fact discussion on repairing or building had commenced many years earlier.  In 1854 the first suggestions to this effect appear on the minutes of vestry meetings.  One of the reasons given for a new Church was the extremely unsafe condition of the South Tower, considered by some to be in danger of falling at any minute.  As a matter of fact, when the time came for the removal of this tower they tried in vain to pull it down with several yoke of oxen, and were finally obliged to resort to dynamite."  (History of Trinity Church, Julia Norton McLean)


 The cornerstone of our present Church building was laid in 1874.  Trinity 1890Due to the severe nationwide economic depression that lasted from 1873 until 1879 affecting parishioners' ability in meeting their building pledge commitments, it took several years to complete construction of the entire building.  The parish temporarily worshipped for many years in the St. Michael's Chapel section (now St. Michael's Hall) which was completed first.  The Church building was substantially completed in 1788 and consecrated on July 13, 1882.  The steeple spire and clock were added in 1890, and the porte-cochere was completed in 1902 in memory of building chairman Erastus Brainerd, Jr.  The three story John Henry Hall Memorial Parish Hall was completed in 1905, and the sacristy addition was completed in 1928. 


Over the years, the building has seen many changes but preserving the integrity of the building is always at the forefront.  Renovations in 2008 focused on relocating offices, reconfiguring the main entrance, the addition of a Nursery, and remodeling the Church School space.  The most recent renovations in 2015 were re-pointing the outside of the church, maintenance of the stained glass windows, and extensive work on the undercroft of the church to correct and prevent water infiltration.  2015 also saw the installation of a handicapped accessible bathroom next to St. Michael's Hall, making us a fully accessible site, as well as small repairs and painting of the sanctuary, hallways, and parish hall. In 2016 the fire escapes servicing the upper floors were removed and new ones were installed.  Improvements were made to St. Michael's Hall to make it more convenient to hold events there. Trinity has had wi-fi capability since 2014. Trinity's combination of extreme beauty, functionality, and location make it the ideal place for community functions and events.


Rev. Abraham Jarvis, D.D.      Abraham Jarvis Pic & Bio

1780- 1791


Rev Tilloston Bronson   



Rev. Abraham Jarvis, D.D.



Rev. Manoah Smith Miles



Rev. William Jarvis



Rev. Samuel Moody Emery, D.D.                1837-1870

Rev. James Field Spalding, D.D.               1872-1879

Rev. Frederick William Harriman, D.D.     1880-1886

Rev. Oliver Henry Raftery, D.D.                    1886-1919

Rev. Geroge Henry Heyn                              1919-1924

Rev. Sidney Wishart Wallace                       1924-1937

Rev. Malcolm James Van Zandt                  1937-1952

Rev. Gerald Bliss                                           1952-1958

Rev. Granville V. Henthorne, Jr.                   1959-1972

Rev. Edward T. Patrick                                  1972-1987

Rev. James E. Curry                                     1988-1998

Rev. Tara Soughers                                      2000-2004

Rev. Halsey Stevens, Priest in Charge     2004 -2007

Rev. Steven Ling, Vicar                                 2007-2016


For a different version of our history go to  http://www.portlandct.org/churchd.htm