Historic Structures

Trinity Parish (Protestant Episcopal) Chapel, Southport Connecticut

Date added: April 11, 2011 Categories: Connecticut Church Greek Revival

The Chapel was originally constructed as a free-standing structure. Twentieth century additions have made it a part of the extended church complex. Designed on a simple rectangular nave type plan with a frontal porch and decorative wooden bell cote, the small chapel's board-and-batten siding and modest though strong Gothic details create a composition which is both expressive of the rural church architecture popular throughout the country at mid-century and purely unique to this protected coastal village. The otherwise simple plan is given over to details which inherently possess a sense of upward movement and contribute to the over-all vertical thrust of the building. Most important to the success of the ascending composition is the chapels finely scaled rectangular shape topped by an expansive, steep pitched roof. Sheathed with vertical boards and punctuated at short, regular intervals by long, slender battens, the materials alone used to cover the chapel's surface direct the eye upward. The four corners of the main block and two exposed comers of the front entrance porch are reinforced by buttresses which are surmounted by steep gables.

The Parish began to plan for the construction of the chapel in December 1870. Minutes recorded at the December 27th meeting follow.

"The Object of the meeting was explained by the Chairman. Showing the need of a Suitable Building for Church purposes and the necessity of a Parish School and the manner of conducting it. Resolved That the Parish hereby give their consent to the erection of a Chapel or otherwise providing a lecture room on the Grounds adjacent to the Church building and belonging to Trinity Parish Provided that said building be erected, leaving no debt on the Parish. Resolved that such building shall be for the use of a Parish School. And for such other Church purposes as may be necessary. Resolved That the Rector, Capt. Johnathan Godfrey and Franklin Bulkley be a Committee to erect a Chapel when the means necessary for such a building have been provided for to their satisfaction."

On April 19, 1871, the Southport "Chronicle" noted the building committee's progress: "The Trinity Parish Parochial School Committee seem to be taking hold of this school project in earnest. They have already surveyed the ground upon which the school building is to be erected, adjoining the church."

On September 25th, 1872, the Chronicle reported "The Parish School opened on Monday [23rd] in their new school house."

The original small wooden stoop in front of the entrance porch was replaced with a concrete stoop, A small brick chimney with decorative corbelling located at the rear of the building was removed when the central heating system was installed. There were originally four lancet windows evenly spaced, on each side elevation, and two in the rear wall. Two windows on each side elevation and those on the rear were removed. When the church extension was constructed, the chapel was simultaneously enlarged at the side and rear, the steep pitched gable roof was lowered, and the original stairway to the basement, built against the chapel's southwest wall, was removed.

The one-and-a-half story structure is rectangular with a projecting entrance porch on the south and measures 26'-3" (northwest front facade) x 55'-6".

A decorative wooden bell cote with a pointed-arched opening sits atop the central roof ridge at the chapel front. Quatrefoil and triangular motifs trim the tower above the opening. The bell cote is topped by a steeply pitched gable roof with a molded cornice similar to the principal cornice.

The original interior plan was a simple rectangle with a frontal porch and two small rooms at the rear of the building, probably used for office space. In recent years the steep pitched ceiling has been lowered, and the space greatly enlarged as a result of additions to the side and rear.