ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Trinity Episcopal Church, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Trinity Episcopal Church, Florida
Trinity Episcopal Church
Built using pre-cut white pine sent down from New
York, Trinity Episcopal Church has graced the
seacoast city of Apalachicola, Florida, for 170 years.
Trinity Episcopal Church
The historic church was one
of the largest public buildings
in Florida at the time of its
completion in 1839-1840.
Civil War Hiding Place
The church served as a place
of sanctuary for Dr. Alvin
Wentworth Chapman at times
during the War Between the
Trinity Episcopal Church - Apalachicola, Florida
1800s Landmark in Apalachicola
Church & Gorrie Monument
Trinity Episcopal Church is
visible here, shaded by oaks,
with the 1899 monument to
John Gorrie in the foreground.
Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Trinity Episcopal Church in Apalachicola is a
remarkable Florida landmark. Not only has
the beautiful old church survived hurricanes,
war and 170 years of time, it has survived
several fires that swept through the old city.

The church was first organized in late 1835
when Rev. Fitch W. Taylor of the Diocese of
Maryland brought together believers in
Apalachicola and nearby St. Joseph. The
new congregation, originally called Christ
Church, was made "official" on February 11,
1837, when Gov. Richard Keith Call signed
into law its legislative incorporation.

The membership of the church at the time of
its incorporation reads like a "Who's Who" of
early Florida. Among the first vestrymen were
John Gorrie, who would soon invent the first
mechanical refrigeration and ice machine;
Colin Mitchell, a major land developer, and
Cosam Bartlett, publisher of Florida's first
daily newspaper, the
Apalachicola Gazette.

Efforts were immediately launched to raise
funds for a permanent church structure. By
late 1839, $7,500 had been raised for that
purpose and it was reported that the building
was progressing well and was expected to
be complete in early 1840.

The method of construction decided upon by
the early church leaders was remarkable. Its
lumber was sawed and measured to plan
from white pine growing in upstate New York.
The church was assembled there to make
sure all the pieces fit properly, but was then
taken apart and shipped by schooner to
Apalachicola, where it was reassembled on
its present site.

This method of prefabricated construction
was not unusual in the early days of the
Deep South, and was commonly used in
houses of the time. Churches built in this
nature were rare, however, and Trinity is
thought to be one of the only ones ever so
assembled in Florida.

Trinity Episcopal Church was completed in
time for the 1840 Diocesan Convention,
which was held there, and was consecrated
by the Bishop in 1841, four years before
Florida became a state.

It is interesting to note that church records
reveal that 61 of the Trinity members by 1846
were African American. Some were slaves
and others were free blacks, the latter then
commonly found in Southern seaport cities.
Whites and blacks routinely worshiped
together in the South prior to Reconstruction,
when the churches were segregated under
the guidance of Northern officials who were
placed in control following the Civil War.

In 1847 the church welcomed
Dr. Alvin
Wentworth Chapman, a new resident of
Apalachicola. A noted botanist and writer,
Chapman was a leading scientist of his day
and a staunch Unionist in a time when many
in Florida favored secession.
Trinity Episcopal Church
The columned entrance of the
church was designed in the
architectural style of Greek
After being held by the Confederates for a
year, Apalachicola was evacuated so the
soldiers could be sent elsewhere and
became, in essence, a "no man's land" that
was beyond the Southern lines but not within
the Union ones. The city was visited from
time to time by boat parties from the Union
blockade ships off Apalachicola Bay as well
as by Confederate patrols, but neither side
routinely stationed men in the city from 1862-

During this time, Trinity served as a place of
comfort to the citizens who remained in the
city, many of them elderly or the wives and
children of Confederate soldiers. Other
families, like Dr. Chapman's, were split. His
son served in the Confederate army and his
wife went to live with her family in Marianna,
while the doctor remained behind. He used
the church as a hiding place when Southern
patrols entered the town.

Through it all, the venerable old church
survived. It would also survive hurricanes, a
great fire that destroyed a large portion of
Apalachicola as well as Twentieth Century
"progress." Today it is one of the most
charming and beautiful churches in the

Please click here to visit the official Trinity
Episcopal Church website for more
information. There you will find information
on service times as well as other details
about the historic church.