History of Trinity

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral traces its history to the mid-1840's when overland immigrants began pouring into the area from the Oregon Trail. Among them was the Rev. Michael Fackler, a recent graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary, who had taken the long trip in hopes that the climate might be beneficial to his failing health. On his arrival, he became the first Anglican clergyman in the vast area which is now Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Montana. Although he was never well enough to establish a parish, he did obtain permission to hold occasional services using the Book of Common Prayer in the first Methodist Church in the area.

Trinity was established as an Episcopal parish in 1851. By 1853, Trinity had grown to twenty-five regular worshippers, enough to call a permanent rector (the Rev. John D. McCarty) and undertake construction of its own building on 2nd and Oak Street, on land donated by parishioner Benjamin Stark, one of the earliest leaders of Portland. The city of Portland grew very rapidly in the years following the Civil War and the congregation burgeoned to over 200 regular members, totally overwhelming the little building meant only to hold fifty or so worshippers. Thus, in 1871, the members of the parish decided to purchase a half block lot at the corner of 6th and Oak Street and set about building a new “permanent" church, a building they felt would lend an air of permanence to the city itself. Very different from its log cabin predecessor, this building included stained glass windows, an organ, and a steeple with a bell that had been made from melted down cannons. It The new building meant that Trinity and the Episcopal Church were here to stay.

As it grew in the late Nineteenth century, Trinity parish was actively involved in the establishment of Good Samaritan Hospital (1873) and the Trinity Mission Chapel (St. Mark's parish). Eventually it would also "spin off" Ascension Church, originally a Sunday School chapel for Trinity children. By the turn of the 20th century, Trinity Church was home to many of Portland's most prominent citizens. Several prominent streets in Portland’s downtown area are named after Trinity’s early vestry members. Increasingly, however, the area around the church was becoming less and less residential and more and more commercial. When the building at 6th and Oak was struck by fire in 1902, the parish made the decision to locate its new building elsewhere, in the then fashionable district of NW 19th Street where many of the parishioners lived. The new church, which still houses Trinity parish, was consecrated on
Oct. 14, 1906.

In the Twentieth Century, Trinity enjoyed the leadership of eight Rectors. In the 1930’s, a parish hall was constructed. The 1980’s saw the remodeling of the church sanctuary, and the installation of the Rosales Organ, one of the finest instruments of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. In November 1993, two years after the arrival the Very Rev. Anthony C. Thurston, Trinity was consecrated as cathedral for the Diocese of Oregon. Under Dean Thurston's leadership, the parish underwent a time of rapid expansion in terms of numbers and diversity. Upon the retirement of Dean Thurston in 2002, and after an interim period of about 18 months, a new dean, The Very Rev. William Lupfer was installed in 2004 and continued a period of growth. In July of 2014, Dean Lupfer accepted a call to become Rector of Trinity Wall Street in New York City. Under the leadership of Deans Thurston and Lupfer, Trinity is known for its superb music program, its broad education program, and its service to the Northwest Portland community.

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