Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes)

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Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church
Old Swedes front corner 1.JPG
Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes)
Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes) is located in Delaware
Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes)
Location E. 7th St. and Church St., Wilmington, Delaware
Coordinates 39°44′18.14″N 75°32′26.48″W / 39.7383722°N 75.5406889°W / 39.7383722; -75.5406889Coordinates: 39°44′18.14″N 75°32′26.48″W / 39.7383722°N 75.5406889°W / 39.7383722; -75.5406889
Built 1698
Architect Multiple
Architectural style No Style Listed
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 66000261
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL November 5, 1961[2]

Holy Trinity Church, also known as Old Swedes is a church in Wilmington, Delaware, that is a National Historic Landmark. It was dedicated on July 4, 1699.[3]

History[edit]

Interior of Old Swedes Church. From the Historic American Buildings Survey, Edward M. Rosenfeld, Photographer, April 20, 1934

The church was built in 1698–99 in the Swedish colony of New Sweden from local blue granite and Swedish bricks that had been used as ship's ballast. The church was situated on the site of the Fort Christina's burial ground, which dates to 1638. It is claimed that it is "the nation's oldest church building still used for worship as originally built". There are reportedly over 15,000 burials in the churchyard. Lutheran Church services were held in the Swedish language well into the 18th century.[4]

In 1697 the Church of Sweden renewed its commitment to Swedish settlers in the Delaware Valley and sent three missionaries, Jonas Auren, Eric Bjork, and Andreas Rudman, to the area.[5] A total of three churches with similar architecture were built or established by Swedish communities in the area about the same time. All are generally known as "Old Swedes", and later joined the Episcopal Church. Holy Trinity in Wilmington was built in 1699. Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church in Philadelphia, about 30 miles away, was founded in 1677 and the building was completed in 1700. Trinity Church in Swedesboro, New Jersey, about 20 miles away by modern roads, was founded in 1703, with its current building completed in 1784.

Five other Swedish churches were founded about this time: St. Mary Anne's Episcopal Church in the town of North East, Maryland, Old St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church in Douglassville, Pennsylvania, St. George's Episcopal in Pennsville, New Jersey, St. James Kingsessing in Philadelphia, and Christ Church (Old Swedes) in Upper Merion Township, Pennsylvania.[5]

Holy Trinity in Wilmington has housed an Episcopal parish since 1791 and is now part of the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware. An earlier church in New Sweden was built in Swanwyck, near New Castle about 1662 which was replaced by a combined church and fort at Crane Hook in 1667.[6]

In 1958 the historic Hendrickson House was moved to the grounds of the church. The church building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961.[2] [7] Trinity Parish operates two church buildings in Wilmington, both listed on the NRHP: the main building on North Adams,[8] and Old Swedes at East 7th and Church Streets.

Burials in churchyard[edit]

Notable burials include:

  • Alexis Irenee du Pont Bayard (1918–1985), Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
  • Elizabeth Bradford du Pont Bayard (1880–1975)
  • James A. Bayard (1799–1880), U.S. Senator
  • Richard Bayard (1796–1868), first Mayor of Wilmington, U.S. Senator
  • Thomas F. Bayard, Sr. (1828–1898), Secretary of State under President Cleveland
  • Thomas F. Bayard, Jr. (1868–1942), U.S. Senator
  • Dr. Joseph Capelle, a Revolutionary War veteran
  • Catharina and Britta Cock (d. 1726)
  • Frank Martine Heal
  • Major Peter Jaquett, a Revolutionary War veteran
  • The Right Reverend Alfred Lee, first Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware
  • Ignatius Grubb (1841–1927), Justice of Delaware state supreme court.
  • Captain Hugh Montgomery, Captain of the brig Nancy, raised the first American flag in a foreign port
  • Elizabeth Montgomery, daughter of Capt. Hugh Montgomery
  • Charles Springer, first Warden
  • William Vandever (d. 1718), grave marked with the oldest legible stone
  • Mary Vining, Belle of the American Revolutionary period
  • Samuel White (1770–1809), U.S. Senator
  • James Harrison Wilson (1837–1925) Union general in the Civil War

See also[edit]

Iron letters on the east wall of the church dating from 1698, spelling in Latin "LUX-L.I. TENEBR ORIENS- EX ALTO" which translates to "Light from on high shines in the darkness"
"Swede's Church" by John Sartain (1845)

References[edit]

External links[edit]