The Oldest Church in Jefferson County
The roots of this historical parish date back to mid-winter 1866 when the first Episcopal Bishop of Missouri, Cicero S. Hawks, visited De Soto. At that time, the Rt. Rev. Hawks presided at the first Episcopal Church service and instituted continuing lay reading as well as Sunday School in the community. Before Bishop Hawks died in 1868, he initiated services wherever a congregation could be gathered along the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad, to include: Victoria, Hematite, Ironton, Arcadia, Irondale, and De Soto.
Mr. Reuben Burroughs settled in De Soto in 1865, and although of a Presbyterian background, was so moved by the Episcopal Bishop that he read the book The Pioneer Church, which outlined the ability to form an Episcopal mission administered by laymen. With that inspiration, a mission was established in the summer of 1866. Growth was slow, but with an assigned pastor, the Reverend O. H. Staples, Trinity Parish was admitted to the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Diocese of Missouri, on May 24, 1871.
Efforts were immediately undertaken to build a church building and $1000 was subscribed. The title to its current site, which consists of two lots, were purchased for $100 on April 17, 1871. A simple frame construction was considered, but stone was plentiful from a nearby local quarry, and the cornerstone was laid July 24, 1871, by the second Bishop of Missouri, the Rt. Rev. Charles F. Robertson.
Dimensions of the building were 50 feet 8 inches , by 40 feet 8 inches; with walls of 12 feet and the ridge at 31 feet. As originally conceived, the building was to include a 'box' or 'recessed' chancel, which is a short extension of the main building to house the choir and altar. This was never undertaken, although an outline of a stone arch on the western wall can be seen. After the bell tower and entrance foyer were completed, a spire was contemplated but never initiated.
At completion, the total building cost was $3000 and when the debt was retired, Trinity Episcopal Church was consecrated on December 17, 1882.
Later additions include the rock retaining wall (1883) and its partial reconstruction (2008) and the parish house, built adjoining the north wall (1956). Building the parish house necessitated the removal of one stained glass window and converting that space into a doorway connecting the two buildings.
The stained glass dates back to the building's inception, although a complete restoration of them was undertaken in 1961.
On July 10,1997, the church sustained serious wind damage and the roof at the southwest corner was lifted off. Interior destruction resulted and the granite cross on the eastern eave was blown off and fragmented.
As a result, the walls were reinforced with steel and tuck-pointed. The roof was re-anchored, the interior was completely refurbished, and a new granite cross replacement was hoisted into position.
Currently, traditional Episcopal services are conducted every Sunday and other Holy days throughout the year. The parish hall is used and available for a variety of activities including the oldest of Alcoholics Anonymous in Jefferson County.
Trinity Episcopal church remains an active and vibrant addition to the Desoto Community.