Photo courtesy Richard Margolis
Former Trinity Episcopal Church
10-14 Bayard Street
Town of Seneca Falls, Seneca County
Built in 1833, the former Trinity Episcopal Church is one of the earliest surviving examples of community church architecture still standing in western New York. Designed in the 19th century Gothic Revival style, former Trinity Episcopal Church is also a major property that reflects the development of the south side of the village. It remains in a neighborhood setting, surrounded by homes of early industrialists, and is visible from the downtown business district. As such, it is both a visual icon of Seneca Falls and a rare survivor of its type (house of worship) and its style (Gothic Revival).
Historically, the former church has great significance for its connection with the nationally important social justice movements of the 19th century, including abolitionism, the Underground Railroad, women’s rights, and African-American history. Many European-American abolitionists and at least three African-Americans were affiliated with this church. At least ten people associated with this church – including Elizabeth Cady Stanton – signed the Declaration of Sentiments at the 1848 Seneca Falls women’s rights convention.
The building is also significant for its role in the community’s industrial heritage as the home of the Westcott Rule Company. From the mid-1890s to the mid 1990s, Westcott Rule, whose business operated in this building, became one of the world’s largest producers of wooden rulers.
In 2002, State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio secured $150,000 in state funding to provide for the acquisition and preservation of the building. The building has remained vacant and unused since that time. Today, the exterior of the building retains the look and association of an early 19th century Gothic Revival house of worship, while the interior retains features of a historic manufacturing facility that reflect 100 years of this company’s worldwide importance. Its exceptional architectural, cultural, and historic significance, combined with its highly visible location, make it an important candidate for revitalization and re-use.
A highly visible anchor in Seneca Falls, with significant ties to abolitionist and women’s rights history, this building retains exceptional historic, cultural and architectural significance. Originally used as a house of worship, former Trinity Church highlights the challenges facing similar religious properties throughout the nation that have become vacant and seek new uses. This signature building is worthy of recognition and protection, with the ultimate goal of rehabilitation for an appropriate re-use.