Art and Architecture


Trinity exterior
One of the Buildings that Changed America

Trinity Church was the first major work of Henry Hobson Richardson, and the building established the “Richardsonian Romanesque” arch

H. H. RIchardson
Makers of Trinity

The building was created by four men in their 30s—the rector, Phillips Brooks; the architect, H. H. Richardson; the master builder, O. W.

Trinity interior
Shape of a Cross

The floor plan of the church approximates a Greek Cross, with near equal legs projecting out from the center which sits below the grand tower...

A Firm Foundation

The property on which Trinity stands—along with the rest of the Back Bay area—is landfill.

West Porch
West Porch

The West Porch, the main entrance off of Copley Square, was added to the church nearly 20 years after the building was completed by Shepley,...

East Tower Arch
Painters of the Interior

More than 21,500 square feet of the interior is covered with painted decoration and murals, completed.

The Chancel
The Chancel

The décor and design of the chancel has changed over the years.

Phillips Brooks Memorial Statue
Phillips Brooks Memorial Statue

There are many sculptures of Phillips Brooks in and around Trinity Church, the most prominent being the free-standing monument on the north...

Windows and Other Arts

Oudinot Windows
Masterpieces of the 19th Century

Trinity’s magnificent stained glass collection is one of the finest in the nation, with examples from most of the major American and Europ

Christ Preaching
La Farge Windows

Between 1883 and 1902, John La Farge created five windows for the church, now considered among the most famous of American stained glass of the...

Restoration of La Farge Window
An Innovative Method

La Farge created a completely new and inventive construction method of layering both colored and opalescent glass, set within a structure of...

Morris Window
English Windows

Four windows are by the English Pre-Raphaelites, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.

New Carpet
19th and early 20th Century Art by Women Artists

Trinity is notable for the inclusion of pieces by two Boston-based Arts and Crafts designers, both women, Sarah Wyman Whitman and Margaret...

Redmond Windows
Margaret Redmond

Margaret Redmond, a student of William Morris Hunt and an admirer of La Farge, is the only woman stained glass designer to have work...

Chancel Windows
Chancel Windows

The windows in the chancel, by Clayton & Bell of London (1877-1878), share scenes from the life of Christ.

One of America’s top 10 buildings, our building has long been considered a masterpiece of American architecture. 

A hundred years ago, and again in the late 20th century, the American Association of Architects named Trinity Church Boston one of the most significant buildings in the country. At the time of its inception and dedication in the 1870s, it was a bold experiment in construction on marshland in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood. Heralded for its new face and feeling for ecclesiastical architecture in America, the building is a celebrated example of "Richardsonian Romanesque" design, named after its architect, H. H. Richardson.

Everything about the historic building—from its elaborately carved exterior to its stained-glass windows, colorful mosaics, La Farge wall murals, and needle-worked kneelers—proclaims the Gospel. Despite its renowned artistry and architecture, Trinity Church is not a museum. Rather, it is a sacred place of worship and service where a vibrant community of faithful Christians and visitors gather on a daily basis.  


Housing a Bold Spirit**

It was not merely form, history, and purpose that guided Richardson’s approach to the building’s design, but his spirit as well. Richardson ultimately sought to give architectural form to the spellbinding preaching of his friend Phillips Brooks, Trinity's Rector at the time of the building’s design and construction. Richardson scrapped his first sketches, which called for a classic design typical of Gothic Revival Episcopal churches of the time, and, instead, sketched an unconventional Greek cross plan, with chancel, nave, and transepts of equal size grouped around a central square.

This approach represented a radical departure for American ecclesiastical design. It presented an inclusive, open auditorium plan closer in spirit to the emerging needs of democratic contemporary American congregational practice, than to the hierarchical, conventional Episcopal designs and worship practices of the day. The design of Trinity Church reflects the democratic American spirit evident in town halls, railroad stations, libraries, court houses, and homes across this country. Though Richardson attributed his inspiration for the building to France’s 11th-century Romanesque churches, he called Trinity a “free rendering” of those sources.

**Excerpted from James F. O'Gorman, "The Makers of Trinity Church in the City of Boston" (University of Massachusetts Press, 2004).  


Recommended Resources:

"Trinity Church, 2016" (guidebook available at the Welcome Center)
"The Makers of Trinity Church" (Buy on AmazonSmile)