Trinity Church circa 1920
Check out https://trinitywallstreet.org/ to get the history and details of this great site. What makes this church so special? Well, it is one of the oldest churches in the United States and is the home of a few very famous names from American history. One of whom is Andrew Jackson.
Well, we know Andrew Jackson is a famous, yet problematic figure, from the core of U.S. history.
Andrew Jackson, was one of the most influential people of his time. His strong-willed attitude and cruel ambition toward perfecting the American government, in his presidency from 1829 to 1837, created a powerful stance for Jackson and the opinions about him. – edubirdie
Andrew Jackson is no longer very popular, and many of his values are no longer ours. His vision of the “people” had no room for people of color. Some of his attacks on eastern financial elites were a continuation of the Jeffersonian attacks on urban, nationalist, Hamiltonian principles. Jackson’s populism was thus a Trojan horse for pro-slavery, pro-states- rights interests. He was a wealthy slaveholder himself, with no qualms about African-American bondage and deep hostility to abolitionism. – SmithsonianMag
Why focus on Andrew in the scope of this awesome church? Well, there is a huge shadow plucked from history when it came to how African Americans backs were used to build so much of the country, but the history of this church in New York City was a part of that story.
In New York City, where as much as 20% of its population was once enslaved, the original street of Broadway, the wall that gave Wall Street its name, historic restaurant and bar Fraunces Tavern and Trinity Church were all built using slave labor. – Reuters
“All of the original built environment in New York basically was built with the labor of enslaved people,” said Louise Mirrer, the head of the New York Historical Society. – Reuters
Trinity Church of New York was an important site during the American Revolution and the founding era of the United States of America. Originally founded under the charter of King William III of England in 1697, the church has Dutch roots preceding this date, when New York was still known as New Amsterdam. (source MountVernon.Org)
Trinity Church, consecrated on Ascension Day 1846, is considered one of the first and finest examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in the United States. With a 281-foot high steeple, Trinity was the tallest building in New York City until 1890. – TrinityWallstreet.Org
It is an amazing space with a rich history and a troubled origin as noted above. Today tourist can visit the site and participate in frequent services. But what drew me to it for ELDRITCH was the visual side of it, but the compelling history was too rich to use a different church. No, even though one of the characters in my story is the Catholic Church/Vatican, Trinity has nothing to do with them. It works in the story giving the Vatican deniability in harboring of a dirty secret hiding in the basement of the ancient church.
Those problematic notes and the majesty of this location are background to some intrigue that plays out throughout the book. None of it is preachy by any means, but it is a mirror of modern society and how far we have come. And how far we have not come.
A Critical Moment: Meet Maggie
Margaret Sue-Ellen Jackson was visiting from North Carolina, on a tour of Americas great churches in the Northeast. She is a woman dedicated to her Baptist Church’s celebration of of her Christian beliefs. She was a very special woman who was sensitive to the pain of other people. She discovered the dirty secret hiding in the basement of the Trinity, just past the crypts below, setting something loose on the world that was game changing.
(Margaret Sue-Ellen Jackson is a fictional character a the basement of the Trinity Church is a fascinating space, but I took some creative license with what is actually down there.)