ELKTON — Of the numerous churches located in Elkton, the diminutive Trinity Episcopal Church is among the smallest. Located at 105 N. Bridge St. at one end of Main Street and next door to the always bustling American Home and Hardware, Trinity it such a familiar site to many that the lovely structure is often overlooked by passersby. That’s a shame really, as it truly is an intriguing and beautiful edifice.
On the cusp of recognizing a 160th anniversary, the cornerstone for the antebellum church as it stands today was laid on Aug. 30, 1860, exactly 159 years ago today. But that is the age of the edifice, as the congregation that started Trinity in Elkton predates even the old church building.
It was in early 1832 that a group called the Trinity Episcopal Church formed in the county seat of Elkton, still called Head of Elk at that time. As is most common with any significant historic structure in Elkton, the first building erected for the church was connected to one of Elkton’s numerous Hollingsworth family members. In this instance, Samuel Hollingsworth deeded the land for the edifice to be built to the vestry of Trinity.
It didn’t take long for the active congregation to build a small frame structure to house the church, for by Nov. 23, 1832, Bishop Stone consecrated the humble edifice and worship services were held.
Fast forward through 28 years of steady but pronounced growth, and the congregation found themselves in need of a larger church to meet the needs of the ever-growing town of Elkton. This time the congregation opted to build a more distinctive structure of stone in what is known as the Gothic Revival style, characterized by tall pointed forms. It was an extremely popular architectural style of the 1860s and can be seen in numerous Victorian homes throughout Elkton and Cecil County.
One of the more unique aspects to Trinity Episcopal Church, that certainly seems to garner the most interest and questions from visitors and residents alike, is the distinctive masonry work. At the time the stonework was considered almost whimsical in nature, or as the church’s own website describes it, a “…playful polychrome masonry” with cast-iron detailing. However that aspect was courtesy of a remodel done to the structure only eight years later in 1868.
Trinity Episcopal continued its steady growth and by 1871 was separated from the North Elk Parish — which met at the historic St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church in North East — to become part of a large swatch area of Cecil County known as Trinity Parish. This elevated status seems to have prompted adding a rectory to the church in Elkton, which was purchased in 1877 and then physically moved from Main Street to Bridge Street.
Changes were still to come for the Trinity Episcopal Church edifice, however. A horrifying fire in 1896 destroyed the chancel and sanctuary. Rather than cry over the ashes, the congregation dusted themselves off and made repairs and numerous improvements. A few years later they turned their eyes to the Trinity Parish House, building it in 1904. By 1941, during a period of massive growth to Elkton due to the World War II buildup and increased workload at the munitions plant, they added a second floor to accommodate rooms for the church school.
Again in 1953 a large addition was erected, with this particular capital improvement program including the demolition of the old rectory building. It was replaced with a charming brick Cape Cod structure.
The Trinity Episcopal Church of today has about 100 registered members and on any given Sunday about 45 persons are in attendance for morning prayer at 8 a.m. and Holy Eucharist and music at 10:30 a.m. The Trinity Episcopal Church, under rector the Rev. Dr. Nicholas N. Sichangi, has developed a vision statement of, “Living and growing in our relationship with God, Trinity Parish wishes to share God’s good news with our expanding church family and to go forth in our community to spread His love and joy.”
Trinity Episcopal Church is also one of the local churches that has kept up with modern forms of communication and has a very informative and thoughtfully developed website at www.trinityelkton.org and is responsive to email inquiries at email@example.com. Among the programs and organizations at Trinity are: The Brotherhood of St. Andrew; Altar Guild; Outreach Food Pantry (staffed by volunteers); Community Soup Kitchen (Fridays); Choir; Handbell Choir; Adult Education; Fellowship; and community groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Recovery.