This photo was taken by Fr. Piotr Riesner, OFM Conv. during his
visit to Most Holy Trinity in April of 2004; Fr. Piotr is from the Krakow,
Poland, Province of the Conventual Franciscan Friars; he is currently serving as
his province's vocation director.
Betty Smith, the author of the novel "A Tree Grows
In Brooklyn," was born on December 15, 1896 as Elisabetha Wehner
(child of Joannes Wehner and Katharina Hommel); according to the Baptismal
Registry of this church, she was baptized by the Reverend Nicholas M. Wagner
here (then simply known as “Holy Trinity”) on January 24, 1897. In the
best-selling novel, Smith wrote about a fictitious girl named Francie who grew up in
Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Although Trinity is never mentioned by name, the author
clearly refers to her own church.
thought it was the most beautiful church in Brooklyn. It was made of old gray
stone and had twin spires that rose cleanly into the sky, high above the tallest
tenements. Inside, the high vaulted ceilings, narrow deepset stained-glass
windows and elaborately carved altars made it a miniature cathedral.”
Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1943)
The name of William Schickel, the architect of our church, as it
appears on the stained glass window depicting St. Dominic. Schickel
donated five hundred dollars as a gift for this window; we could say that here
"signed" his name to the building he designed.
interior is done in a “basilican” plan; there are no transepts. The interior
is 170 feet long, 82 feet wide and 79 feet high.
The building's impressive twin spires, that reach twenty stories into the sky, have dominated the neighborhood for nearly
one-hundred and twenty years. They were reinforced and covered with
lead and copper in 1990, dramatically altering the way they had looked for
more than one-hundred years. This photo was taken with a telephoto
lens by Fr. Timothy Dore, OFM Conv., from atop the Empire State Building in
Manhattan ("as the crow flies" the distance between the two buildings is
approximately three and a half miles).
The building features a “triforium level” with tri-fold
arched openings that lend to a sense of mystery; it also has a spacious and
airy clerestory level in which are located nineteen of the building's
magnificent stained glass windows.
All who pass through these doors are warmly welcomed!
This photo shows the modern altar of sacrifice and the
new baptismal font. The altar of sacrifice was dedicated in the
year 2001; the font, which was designed to accommodate adult immersion
baptisms, incorporates the church’s original baptismal font and was
installed in the same year as the new altar.
designed by the great church architect William Schickel (1850-1907), is modeled
after the “French Gothic of the 13th century” style popular in the United States
during the mid-to-late nineteenth century. It also has many architectural
features typical in German Gothic-styled churches of the time.
William Schickel (1850-1907). Photo
courtesy of the Schickel Family archives.
of the Church, which reads “AD1882,” was laid on May 18, 1882; it took three
years to construct the building; when it was completed in August of 1885 it was
one of the largest church structures in both the City of Brooklyn and the City
of New York (Brooklyn was a separate city until it merged with the five
boroughs of greater New York in 1898).
The building's impressive twin spires, that reach twenty stories into the
sky, have dominated the neighborhood for nearly one-hundred and twenty years.
The front of the building and the towers are constructed of Belleville brownstone
(i.e., stone acquired from a quarry in the not too distant town of
Belleville, New Jersey; interesting to note is that stone from the same quarry
was used to build the famous Gothic Revival style gates of the
in Brooklyn). Trinity's towers are 205 feet tall; the left tower (on the east side) was completed in
1884; the right tower was completed in 1890; for six years the one on the right
stood only as high as the roof of the main part of the structure. The
crosses on the top of each tower are five feet tall. There
are five bells in the left tower; they were installed in 1891 (there are no
bells in the right tower); all of the bells together weigh approximately 10,074
pounds. When built, the towers featured clocks-not an uncommon fixture on
bell towers of the time. Because of structural problems and falling stone
fragments, the top of the spires were reinforced and covered with lead and
copper in 1990. This dramatically altered their original appearance.
Originally the towers had the same stone appearance as
the facade of the building. Because of structural problems and falling
stone fragments, the top of each spire was later reinforced and covered
with lead and copper. This greatly altered the original appearance
of the two towers. This photo of the left, and older tower shows how each spire appeared for more
than one-hundred years.
The outlay of the building's interior is done in a “basilican” plan; there are no transepts. The interior is 170 feet long, 82 feet wide and
79 feet high. It has clustered columns, pointed arches and cruciform vaulting with
supporting ribs in the ceiling. When the church was opened in 1885, it had a
seating capacity of nearly 1,350 people; many rows of pews were removed from the
church during subsequent renovations; today the church can accommodate 950
people at full capacity. There are two side aisles, designed like the
nave, that feature corresponding side altars, one dedicated to the Sacred Heart
of Jesus and the other to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Notable along the walls on
each side of the church are large carved Stations of the Cross. It should also
be noted that several murals in the church were painted by the renowned German
artist Wilhelm Lamprecht (1838-1922). Within the chancel is the old high altar,
which is carved of white marble and Caen stone and is capped with a central
spire that rises twenty-seven feet into the air. The modern altar of sacrifice,
also made of marble, was dedicated in the year 2001; a baptismal font, which was
designed to accommodate adult immersion baptisms, incorporates the church’s
original baptismal font and was installed in the same year as the new altar. A
beautifully sculpted oak pulpit, designed by the building's architect, dominates
the sanctuary area; the floor of its pedestal is eight feet above the main
floor, while the fleur-de-lis ornament at the peak of the ornate tower crowning
it reaches a height of thirty-three feet.
Perhaps the building’s most magnificent feature is its exquisite stained glass
windows; there are thirty-four windows in all; two of them have simple designs
of vines and leaves, the others are breathtakingly beautiful. The central or
rose window above the entrance to the church is thirty-six feet high and
twenty-two feet wide. All of the windows were created
by the Albert Neuhauser Mosaic Firm in Innsbruck, Austria in 1884 and 1885.
Above the arcade level (the main floor) there is a “triforium level” with
tri-fold arched openings that lend to a sense of mystery typical in Gothic style
churches. The building features a spacious clerestory level on which are found
nineteen of the stained glass windows.
There is a large narthex (vestibule) at the main entrance to the building; two
smaller vestibules, each featuring stairways to the choir loft, are located to the
right and left sides of the narthex. Immediately below the narthex is a crypt
area in which the first two pastors of the parish are entombed.
Behind the high altar is a large sacristy featuring richly paneled walls and
cabinetry, as well as interesting stained glass windows, added during the
renovation of 1958.