The original structure of La Santísima Trinidad Episcopal Church was built between 1873 and 1874. It was the first Protestant church in Puerto Rico. It represents the beginning of freedom of worship on the island, which was enacted during the period of the First Spanish Republic in 1868.
The first Protestant services were held in Ponce in 1869. The same year, the Episcopal congregation decided to establish an appropriate temple for their religious activities. Construction of La Santísima Trinidad Church began in 1873, but in face of the political changes in Spain and the lack of monetary support from the Spanish Crown, Queen Victoria of England donated the materials for the construction, including a forged iron bell that had been made in 1870 and is still in use today.
In 1874, religious intolerance returned and the church was ordered closed. With the intervention of Queen Victoria, through the British Consulate in Ponce, the Spanish government agreed to allow the temple to remain open, but with certain restrictions: the doors of the main entrance had to remain closed, the bell could not be rung, and services could not be offered in Spanish. These measures continued in effect until 1898, when United States troops entered Ponce.
By 1923, the original temple, built of wood and metal, was in a state of deterioration, so a new one was built. The new reinforced concrete structure combined British-influenced, neo-Gothic style with traditional elements of Spanish construction in Puerto Rico. The arch, the rosette, the buttresses, the weight of the walls and the scarcity of ornamentation show Romanesque influences but also lend a geometric and modern air to the structure. Among the elements traditionally found in religious structures are the shape of the building, the belfry and bells, and the roof of wood and tiles.
The floor plan is in the form of a cross with a two-story nave and crossing just to the west of the semicircular apse. A reception foyer attached to the building provides access to the nave through an arch with decorative ironwork.
The Episcopal congregation’s temple continues to offer services and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Sites.
Adapted by the PROE Editorial Group
Original source: Catalog of Properties, National Registry of Historic Sites, State Office of Historic Conservation, Office of the Governor, 1995.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 17, 2014.
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