History of Trinity Episcopal Church
On the 5th Sunday in July, 1881, the Rev. Mr. Franklin, priest in charge of St. John's Chapel at Earlton, gave the service that initiated the first 100 years in the life of Trinity Church, Melrose, Florida. First called Trinity Mission, the church grew to a membership of 5 families before Mr. Franklin became ill, returned to Canada and died. The Rev. Mr. Knowles of Georgia and then the Rev. Mr. Clayton from Orange Heights succeeded him in 1882 and in 1883 respectively. When the group had grown to 9 families, a Ladies Aid Society was formed and a Sunday school was organized. A parcel of land was purchased and plans were formed to build a church. All this came to a standstill when Mr. Clayton was called home on the death of his father and was unable to return. No services were held from before Christmas 1884 until April 1885. At that time, Bishop John Freeman Young organized the mission, calling it Trinity Mission and making Mr. H. A. Hawkins the Senior Warden, Mr. Phillip Pricoleen the Secretary and Treasurer, and Mr. Cameron a Lay Reader. Fortnightly meetings were held at the home of Mr. John Hilton, a leader in the church for many years.
During 1885, plans for a chapel were developed and in the latter part of 1885 and early 1886, E. L. Judd, a local contractor, built the structure. This simple 20 x 40 building is in the "Carpenter Gothic" style developed by the architect, Richard Upjohn, whom Bishop Young had known while he was assistant rector of Trinity Church in New York City. Heart pine lumber, cut at a local sawmill, was used. The board and batten walls are one board in thickness with wooden cleats or battens covering the joints both inside and out. Simple wooden modified scissors trusses support the roof. The pier foundations and one chimney are of brick, probably from the Campville brick works a short distance to the southwest. The chimney was removed during installation of the organ and pipes..
The following information about Trinity, Melrose, is given in the 1886 Journal of the 44th Annual Council Parochial Report:
The church now had regular services, a Sunday school, and a Women's Auxiliary and prospered during the following years as the town grew. In 1887, Bishop Weed preached and confirmed 2 persons. With Mr. Judd again the builder, transepts were added to the north end of the Chapel, providing an organ area, Sanctuary and Sacristy. Then came the freeze of 1894-95 that brought depression to the church and to the entire area.
Despite the depression and other difficulties, Trinity continued to be active with various priests giving leadership and conducting services. One that was outstanding, was the Rev. Mr. George W. Gilmour. Another was Dr. D. E. Holt. The Right Reverend Edwin Gardner Weed came to administer confirmation and to give spiritual leadership. The stained glass windows were added around 1915. There are four double hung lancet windows on the east and west elevations. These were made possible by the gifts of members and friends at a cost of $105. Other windows include small round stained glass windows on the front and back high gable ends, and a wide stained glass lancet window in back of the altar.
In 1938-39, under the leadership of the Rev. Fred G. Yerkes, Archdeacon of the Diocese of Florida, the church acquired additional property and the Scouts of Troop 109 constructed a Scout Hut. The Scout Hut later was used as the Melrose Library for a time and is now back in use by Troop 109. In 1948, a Camp Blanding chapel building was purchased and moved onto church property. This served as the Parish House, which later burned. The church presently owns the entire block facing Bellamy Ave. (State Road 26), which is bound on the west by Cypress Street, the east by Grove Street, and the north by Park Street. The lot to the north of the church was purchased after the sale of the vicarage, which was located a few blocks away on Quail Street.
From its earliest days, Trinity Church has been community oriented. In the "Study of the Episcopal Church of the Diocese of Florida" in 1957, the church was commended for the development of a community program and the use of the Parish House as a meeting place for local organizations and entertainments. This exceptional service continued until the evening of January 23,1985 when Trinity's Parish House was destroyed by fire. With insurance proceeds and money raised through the efforts of the congregation, members of the community, outside friends and much thought and prayer, a new Parish Hall with a classroom and office wing was completed in 1986 and was dedicated as Yerkes Hall.
The Yerkes Hall has about 6400 square feet of floor space and includes classrooms, a conference room, bath rooms, a kitchen, storage rooms and a large assembly hall. It is considered a prime asset for future growth of Trinity Melrose and is being used on a daily basis for church activities and community functions.
The Gano-Norton building, completed in 1996, houses the church offices, a conference room and the ECW run Thrift Shop.
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