Photo credit: MHT File Photo , 2001

Property Name: Church of the Holy Trinity
Date Listed: 12/27/2002
Inventory No.: HA-167
Location: 2929, Level Road (MD 155), Churchville, Harford County

Description: The Church of the Holy Trinity was in 1878 in the Gothic Revival style. The stone structure presents a gable-front facade northwest towards Level Road. Centered on this facade is a triple window of stained glass, consisting of three Gothic-arched lancet windows, the center being half again as tall as those flanking it. At the north corner of the church is a square bell tower featuring an original bell in a Gothic-arched opening, surmounted by a gable-shaped roof. This is balanced by a flush chimney stack rising at the southeast slope of the roof. Buttresses support the bell cote at the north corner and similar buttresses support the west corner beneath the bold chimney. The architectural chancel at the southeast end is characteristic of Episcopal churches in the Gothic Revival style of the 19th and 20th centuries, and of other styles as well, including, significantly in Maryland, the colonial period. A small sacristy, which projects from the southwest side of the chancel, balances the south porch or vestibule at the main entrance in the northwesterly bay of the nave. A second chimney rises above the southeast gable of the nave, near the sacristy, topped with an original terra-cotta chimney pot. Buttresses along the northeast and southwest walls mark the four bays of the nave and the two bays of the chancel. A brownstone cornerstone with the date 1878 is in the east buttress of the nave. The southwest porch and sacristy occupy precisely an entire bay each. Other nave bays, the north bay of the chancel, and the sides of the south porch and sacristy have a single lancet window with a narrow wooden frame and a single tilting wooden sash for ventilation. The walls are of local black and gray rubble syenitic gneiss stone. The sills and arches of windows and doors, and buttress and gable copings, are of Port Deposit granite. The granite imposts and keystones of the arches project slightly in all directions. The southeast window, above the altar, is the single window with tracery, wooden, describing three Gothic lancets topped, within the Gothic arch, with a roundel containing a trefoil. The ornamental character of this single window bespeaks the importance of its location, above the altar, the focal point of the interior. The steep roofs are covered with slate. Five to seven courses of rectangular slates alternate with similar numbers of courses of hexagonal and fishscale slates. Ornamental wrought-iron crosses, the work of a Churchville blacksmith, Philip Hawkins, top the bell cote, the west gable, and the south porch gable. Within, the plan, still original, consists of an entrance aisle extending ot the central aisle which extends the full length of the nave. On either side are original pews of black walnut, extending to the north and south walls, without side aisles. The pews were made by local cabinetmaker E. A. Bodt, who also furnished the walnut wainscoting which extends around the nave and chancel beneath the windowsills. Marking each bay of the nave and chancel are pine arched-braced chamfered trusses rising above pendant posts which are tied to the walls and buttresses with wrought-iron ties. A large Gothic arch opens into the deeply recessed chancel, raised two steps above the nave.

Significance: The Church of the Holy Trinity, Churchville Parish, in conception and design, reflects the intentions and principles of the Bishop of Maryland, the Right Reverend William Rollinson Whittingham. The designs of the two churches which have stood on this site, 1866 and 1878, follow principles promulgated by the Ecclesiologists from the middle of the 19th century. They were and are the works of important Baltimore architects born nearby in Harford County. For nearly 25 years the parish assumed responsibility for education, despite that responsibility's being made a government responsibility by the Maryland Constitution of 1867, the year Churchville Parish was admitted as an independent parish in the Diocese of Maryland. The land, all the buildings, and all parish operations were for the first 27 years the gift of one individual in whose attic over 600 documents were found 123 years after the parish was founded and 111 years after the present building was built, making Churchville Parish, Holy Trinity Church, the best documented church of its period in Maryland and surely one of the best in the nation. The Gothic Revival design was an interpretation of the "Early English" period of the 12th and 13th centuries, and the principles promulgated by the [English] Ecclesiological Society and its American counterpart, the New York Ecclesiological Society. It is a small church built of local stone with low walls, steep roof, an architectural chancel at the east end, south porch and sacristy, belfry at the west end, lancet windows and doors with pointed arches. The asymmetrical design of its west end is a creative interpretation of its design precedents. With no substantial changes, containing much original furniture, and founding, design, and construction incredibly well documented, it is an important example of an international architectural movement in the Anglican Communion.




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