The Trinity Cathedral
Trinity Cathedral is an Episcopal Church in downtown Pittsburgh. The church holds services every morning and evening and these masses are open to everyone. The Cathedral building, constructed in 1872, is located on 328 Sixth Avenue, next to the First Presbyterian Church. It is the third church constructed by the congregation. The Cathedral, with it's 200 foot spire, is another of the fascinating 19th century buildings that occupy a place in the 21st Century urban landscape of Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle.
The congregation of the Trinity Cathedral has roots dating back to 1762, when services were held in Fort Pitt. In October 1787, heirs of William Penn granted three lots to the Episcopalians and Presbyterians, which were divided equally. This ground was originally used by Native Americans, the French at Fort Duquesne, and British at Fort Pitt, as a burial ground. At one time there were over 4,000 graves on or near the site of the present Cathedral. The Trinity Churchyard has the oldest marked graves west of the Atlantic Seaboard.
In 1805, a official charter was given for the Trinity Church. Although the congregation owned the burial ground, they were reluctant to build on that land, and had been meeting in homes and on the second floor of the courthouse on Market Square. The newly-chartered church purchased another piece of land at Sixth Avenue and Liberty Avenue (now the site of the Wood Street subway station) for construction of a church. This first church was octagonal in shape and known as “The Round Church.”
In 1824, The Trinity congregation moved to it's current location in the middle of the terrace churchyard, amidst the burial plots, and constructed what is regarded as the first gothic structure in Western Pennsylvania. The cathedral was complete with butresses, a tower, pointed arches and a vaulted ceiling. By 1869 the congregation had outgrown St. Peter's Chapel and began work on a new cathedral. The second church building was razed and replaced with the present Cathedral.
The present structure was completed in 1872. The stone building, with it's 200 foot spire and clock, is built in the architectural style called English Gothic. The columns and piers of arches are all made of red Massillon sandstone. The interior wood is white butternut and walnut. The original church pews, of hand-carved white mahogony, are still in use today. The floors consist of Minton’s Encaustic tiles. The chancel ceiling is ultra-marine blue, decorated in gold, and the chancel is panelled with richly carved wood.
When construction was completed, the Trinity Cathedral stood as the tallest building in the city of Pittsburgh. The spire towered above all other structures until the construction of the Allegheny County Courthouse in 1888. The Trinity Cathedral, now dwarfed by the skyscraper towers of the 20th Century, celebrated it's 140th Anniversary in 2012.
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