Our Parish’s History

How It All Began

A History of Trinity Church East New York

TRINITY CHURCH EAST NEW YORK was founded in May of 1850 under the care of Lyman Cobb Sr., author of Cobb’s speller dictionary and other school works, as a mission of Trinity Church Wall Street, Manhattan, and incorporated as a Parish in the Diocese of New York on September 11th, 1854.  Trinity is also one of the many Episcopal Churches in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island which formed the Diocese of Long Island founded in 1867 by the order of the general convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church U.S.A.

The first home of Trinity Church was the Old Dutch Reformed Church located on Wyona Street.  When this building became unsuitable for worship, a committee of three members of the vestry were appointed by the vestry to search for a suitable site on which to build a new church.  This was done at a meeting of the vestry on December 11th, 1885.  After careful consideration of several sites and consultations with the then Bishop of Long Island, the Rt. Rev. Abram Newkirk Littlejohn, the committee entered into contract with Mrs. E.M. Rapplye late December 1885 or early January 1886 for the purchase of a plot of six lots on the northeast corners of Division Avenue (now Arlington Avenue) and Schenck Avenue.  The area contained 100 ft. on Division Avenue and 150 ft. on Schenck Avenue for the amount of $2800.00 with the stipulation that the new church building be commenced before July 18th, 1887 and that the amount of $2800.00 be paid on April 18th, 1886.

Mr. D.J. Malloy at a meeting of the vestry held on May 13th, 1886 reported that Mrs. Rapplye gave an additional plot of land 12 ft. by 100 ft. on Schenck Avenue upon the condition that the deed contains a covenant that no building be erected within 12 ft. of Division Avenue.  This agreement was entered into with owners on both sides of the avenues.  This report was accepted by the vestry and the transaction of the committee was ratified.

A planning committee was appointed and authorized at a meeting of the vestry held on February 16th, 1886 to engage an architect to prepare plans and specifications for the new church edifice.  The planning committee at an adjourned meeting held on March 29th, 1886 reported their selection and agreement upon the plan and sketch submitted by Mr. R.M. Upjohn whom they engaged as architect for building the new church – that the new church be built of brick with stone trimmings the cost not to exceed $15,000.00, this transaction of the planning and site committees were approved and ratified by the vestry.

The planning committee was then empowered to make contract for the building of the new church subject to the approval of the vestry.  The plans and sketches for the new church edifice were submitted to the vestry with the recommendation that they be adopted by Mr. Fred D. Hart on behalf of the planning committee at an adjourned regular meeting of the vestry held April 12th, 1886.  The contract for building the new church was awarded to Mr. Kyran A. Murphy after he explained his bid which was the lowest of all bids submitted provided he could satisfy the planning committee.

At a regular meeting of the vestry held April 26th, 1886 a committee of three was empowered to make a contract with Mr. K. A. Murphy for the building of the new church and said contract to be signed by the Rector.  On Friday, May 3rd, 1886 the ground for the new church was broken by the Rev. Nelson R. Boss, Rector, digging of the ground and the laying of the foundation commenced shortly thereafter.  The cornerstone was laid on Friday, June 16th, 1886.  Present were the Bishop of Long Island, the Rt. Rev Abram Newkirk Littlejohn, the Rector, the Rev. Nelson R. Boss and the vestry.  The new church was completed in October of 1886 and the first service therein was held on Sunday, November 14th, 1886.

As the congregation of Trinity continued to grow, an extension to the church was needed.  This was added in 1890 and took the form of the north and south transepts which presently house the lady chapel, office, sacristy and organ chamber.

During the early nineteen twenties, the basement was excavated and new parish rooms built which included a kitchen, children’s room, choir room and parish hall.

The church was consecrated on October 12, 1920 by the Rt. Rev. Fredrick Burgess, Second Bishop of Long Island.

As we commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the building we worship in; let us be thankful to almighty God for the privilege of being able to do so.  Let us also be thankful to almighty God for the founders of Trinity Church East New York who build the edifice we worship in to the honor and glory of almighty God which has stood and still stands as a witness to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the community of East New York.  We who now call ourselves Saint Joseph Church who were formerly Trinity Church are continuing the legacy that our predecessors began in May of 1850, may we with meekness and humbleness of heart carry it on to the glory, honor, and praise of almighty God for many years to come.
Humbly submitted to the glory, honor and praise of Almighty God.

Earl Morris
Church Historian, Choir Director and Organist