Church of the Holy Trinity
In early 1856, leaders of the movement to establish a new Episcopal church on Rittenhouse Square consulted with four architects before contracting with Scottish-born John Notman "to erect and complete a plain but substantial sandstone Church, with a heavy tower 150 feet in height." His design in "the Norman style," featuring semicircular arches for window and door openings, reflected the Romanesque Revival in American architecture. Notman copied the tower's design from the Abbaye-aux-hommes in Normandy. A projected steeple that would have reached 225 feet was never built.
The Romanesque style was popular with "low church" congregations for whom preaching was central in worship services; they also favored simple interior designs often without choir stalls or altars. As completed in 1859 CHT's interior was in effect an auditorium 118 feet long by 68 feet wide, with a flat white ceiling above the nave. Six columns circled a shallow semicircular chancel; its semi-domed ceiling was lighted by a stained glass window. With substantial galleries, the church accommodated seating of up to 1500.
Over the 150 years since its completion each succeeding generation left its mark on the building. A growing acceptance of decoration even in low-church congregations was reflected in substantial renovations in the early 1880s. The flat ceiling over the nave was replaced by barrel vaulting, decorated with delicate Victorian stenciling, and the chancel was deepened. The enlarged half-dome was richly decorated with gold leaf.
Beginning in 1884 and continuing over several decades, parishioners presented to CHT nineteen stained glass windows as memorials. These include four produced by the famous studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany; others were made by Willet Studios of Philadelphia, Clayton and Bell and Henry Holiday, both of London, England; Franz Mayer and Co. of Munich, Germany; and Luc Olivier Merson of France. In each case, Vestry approval of the design was required. Several other windows in geometric designs were produced by W J McPherson Co, of Boston. Other windows in the towers and the front of the church were created by Willet Studios and Messrs J and C H Gibson of Philadelphia. - Church of the Holy Trinity