|Augusta Canal Church of the Most Holy Trinity Historic Heritage
|John Rudolph Niernsee designed the church. He immigrated to the United States to become one of the most significant architects practicing in Baltimore during the mid-19th century. The painting, sculpture, and stained glass in the church are important examples of mid-19th century fine art and decorative arts.
In addition, Most Holy Trinity has one of the two oldest Catholic Church buildings in Georgia. The church also is known for its efforts to promote the welfare of citizens of Augusta Georgia during times such as the 1839 and 1854 Yellow Fever epidemics. During the epidemics, the church served as a temporary hospital. During the Civil War, it cared for ill federal prisoners of war en route to the Andersonville prison.
Begun in 1857 and consecrated in 1863, the stuccoed-brick church features a basilica plan with a vaulted nave and side aisles, an octagonal apse, and a narthex. Between 1894 and 1899, an octagonal bell tower and spire were added to the northwest tower. The Dorr family donated the 4,750 lb. bell, which hangs in the tower. The inscription on the bell reads, “Presented to St. Patrick’s Church, Augusta, Georgia, 1894. McShane Bell Foundry, Baltimore, Maryland.”
Decoration of the church integrates architecture with painting and sculpture. Most apparent is the rich color often highlighting architectural elements. J. and J. Devereaux painted the interior walls of the church. A mural scene of the lamentation is above the apse. The artists Lamkau and Kreuger painted three more murals.
The gallery above the narthex holds a 29–rank Jardine organ. It was built by the New York firm George Jardine & Son during the Civil War but not delivered until 1868 because of the Union blockade of southern ports. The organ is set in a gabled Romanesque-style wood case. In 1993, The American Organist reported, “the organ is the largest extant 19th–century organ … and one of the largest Jardine’s in the country.”
Original stained glass windows are above the altar illuminating the apse. In 1919, elaborate stained glass windows designed by Mayer & Company of Munich, Germany replaced the 12 opaque windows along the side aisles that were from the date of construction.
Church of the Most Holy Trinity is located within the boundaries of the Augusta Downtown Historic District. It is open Monday-Friday, 9 am to 4:30 pm except during services, when it is open to worshipers. Call for reservations. Free.
|The plans and drawings were donated free of cost to the church by John Rudolph Niernsee, who also designed the State House in Columbia, SC. The church is a classic example of the Early Romanesque Revival style of church architecture, with smooth, broad exterior wall surfaces. The cornerstone was laid July 19, 1857 and the building was consecrated April 12, 1863. The front part of the building is divided into three sections marked by piers. The left section is a tower of three levels or stories. The right section is a bell tower of three levels with a belfry and spire above the third level.
The building is plaster over hand-made brick. The semicircular arch form, the definitive unit of the Romanesque style, is found in the main double doorway framed in granite arches, in the central windows of the front facade, in the narrow niche-windows of the east and west bays and also in each facade of the octagonal base of the spire.
The front facade is lighted not only by the central tracery stained glass, but also by three other small rose windows, one in each bay. Recessed cruciforms between the bays complete the detailing of the front facade. The major features of the side facades are the six large stained glass windows separated by slightly projecting buttresses. Typically, the chancel is lighted by semicircular arched stained glass windows in the rear wall.
Smith & Crane Carvers of New York served as the building's contractor. The brick for the church was furnished by Nicholas del'Aigle and Ferdinand Phinizy and the brick work was executed by Messrs. Hitchcock and Ingalls of Augusta Georgia. The base of the tower on the southeast corner contains 180,000 bricks. The gable Buttresses and sidewalls, average 8 1/2 feet wide and 10 feet below the surface and contain 630,000 brick. In 1886, the church was "rocked by a great earthquake but the church clung to its massive foundations and stood without crack or flaw." The rough casting and plastering by Messrs. James and T. Devereaux of Charleston, South Carolina; the carpenter work was superintended by Isaac Hess and Mr. Dunn until the roof was put on; the interior carpenter work, pews, screen, railing, etc., were executed by Mr. James Osmond.
The iron columns of the interior and the cross on the front of the church were manufactured at the foundry of Mr. John MacMurphy, and are an enduring monument of Southern skill and workmanship.
The fresco painting in the Sanctuary ceiling was originally the work of Messrs. Lamkau and Kreuger. (In 1963 the painting was completely redone by Adolph Frei & Sons, Inc., ecclesiastical artists from Philadelphia.)
The marble altars were done in Baltimore, Maryland by John P. Mullen. He smuggled the altars through the union blockade at the height of the Civil War to install them for the consecration. A bell donated by the Dorr family in 1894 prompted the completion of the bell tower and spire. Granite steps, replacing wooden originals, and an brick and iron fence added to the church in 1899 finished the exterior that we see today.
|The church is built on the basilican plan with nave and side aisles. The sanctuary is raised one step from the church floor and separates the nave from the sacristy. After entering through the large heavy carved front doors you are standing in the narthex of the church with its marble floors and rich wood detailing.
To the right of the church doors is a marble sculpture of the Last Supper. Dating to 1898, the sculpture was originally in the main altar at Sacred Heart Church and was moved here when the former church was deconsecrated and the downtown parishes combined in 1971.
Continuing right are the stairs that led to the bell tower and spire, completed in 1894 with the bell donated by the Dorr family. The bell, weighing 4,750 pounds, is inscribed "Presented to St. Patrick's Church, Augusta Georgia, 1894, McShane Bell Foundry, Baltimore Maryland, 1894."
Enter through any of the three sets of large panel doors interior of the oldest Catholic Church building in the state of Georgia. On the large arch above the steps features seven circles depicting the seven sacraments of the church. Two lines of columns divide the nave into two side aisles and a center section. The columns divide the length of the nave into six bays.
The floor of the last bay at the Sanctuary is raised approximately one foot. Below the ceiling, plaster arches span from the exterior walls to the columns and from column to column lengthwise of the building. The arched panels separating the bays at the ceiling are stenciled with symbols relating to Christ going toward the altar and symbols of the apostles coming back from the altar.
The ceiling between the arches is vaulted from the exterior wall to the column line and between column lines across the building. At the Apse, the building projects as a half octagon open to the Nave and having a vaulted ceiling. On the right and left of the sanctuary are the chapels, dedicated to Saints Mary and Joseph, which are connected by large open arches, each contains an altar.
The interior walls are of stuccoed brick masonry completely restored in 1998 to the original light brown color. The floor of the foyer is concrete with a stone surface. The ceiling and arches are made of plaster on wood lath. The altars, three in number are made of Tennessee marble. The floor of the main area are wood with marble tiles at the aisles and the sanctuary.
The interior width is 69 feet and the height is 47 feet from floor to ceiling. Three distinct and transverse arches supported by twelve ornamental iron columns span the ceiling. The ornate columns are painted in gilt and a dark coral, in a diamond-shaped pattern centered with a floral motif. Other painted detailing highlights the arches of the vaults.
Of the three frescos, which originally decorated the semi-dome of the sanctuary, only the center one remains. (The side arches of the vault were painted to blend with the center one during the 1998 restoration of the church.)
The principle openings in the church consist of six large stained glass windows on each side, a large one in front above the entrance doors, and three in the rear. Above the front window a rose window, and above the chapel altars are two other rose windows.
The important features of the interior have been retained, with the exception of a large canopied pulpit which was located on the left side of the sanctuary, and the replacement of the simple glass windows with elaborate stained glass ones around 1919. (Also during the 1998 restoration, a new pulpit, chairs, processional candlesticks and cross were commissioned and designed by Images of the Cross to compliment the distinctive architecture of the church.)
Above the organ loft is open to the Nave and a balcony at this level projects into the Nave about eleven feet. The organ loft has a vaulted ceiling matching that of the Nave.
At the beginning of the central aisle is an ornately carved wooden baptismal font topped by a small sculpture of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. Flanking the center aisle are two marble fonts with holy water. In the back right corner is a statue of St. Martin de Porris.
The right side aisle windows illustrate events from the life of Jesus. From the back, the first window shows Jesus teaching the children (Matthew 19:13-15); the next window depicts the Ascension of Jesus (Luke 24:50-53); the third window illustrates the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as seen by St. Mary Margaret Alacoque; the next window shows the young Jesus teaching in the temple (Luke 2:45-50); the final window in the side aisle is Jesus giving Peter the keys to the kingdom (Matthew 16:16-20)
At the top of the right aisle is the chapel of St. Joseph. It contains one of the three altars carved by John Mullen. To the right of the altar is a stained glass window depicting the death of St. Joseph and a statue of St. Patrick chosen primary patron of the church by vote of the clergy and people on Easter Sunday, 1863. The church was popularly known as St. Patrick's Church from 1863 until 1971 when the downtown parishes merged and the consecrated name was retained.
Between St. Joseph's altar and the main altar is a large crucifix donated by a parishioner in 1894.
The main altar and sanctuary are separated from the nave by a marble altar rail with beautiful brass gates. The original wooden altar railing were replaced with marble railing and ornate bronze gates around 1905. Marble tiling was also added to the aisles at this time. Close inspection of the brass gates revels many Christian symbols. The four plaques on the gate display symbols of Christ: a lantern (the Light of the world); carpenter's tools; whips and a sponge with bitter wine (symbols of the Crucifixion); and nails (also from the Crucifixion.) Surrounding these are fish (symbols of the Eucharist), a pelican (symbols of Christ - it feeds its young with its own flesh) and a lamb with a book with seven seals (from the book of Revelation.)
Look pass the gate for a view of the magnificent 19th century altar and the surrounding apse. The apse features three large stained glass windows depicting (from left to right) the resurrected Christ, the Holy Trinity and the Nativity. The apse is crowned by a half dome ceiling, the center portion is an oil painting on canvas, the only original ceiling remaining in the church. At the apex of the dome is a triangle with the symbols of the Holy Trinity.
Look straight up to see the "Christus Rex" (Christ the King) surrounded by symbols of the four gospels: Matthew (cherub), Mark (lion), Luke (bull) and John (eagle). It is flanked on either side by angels.
Turn toward the back of the church for the best view of the historic Jardine tracker pipe organ located in the balcony. The organ is the largest Jardine organ still in existence and the oldest of its size still in use in the South. Because of the Civil War the organ was not installed in the church until 1868, completed restored in 1993, it is still used in services.
The memorial plaques on the walls memorialize five of the faithful priests who served here and are buried under the church. (There are eight priests and one bishop buried in the crypts under the church.)
Continue to the altar of St. Mary which completes the trio of altars. The adjacent stained glass window illustrates the miracles of Bernadette's vision of Mary in Lourdes, France in 1857. Nearby is a statue in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
As you walk up the left side aisle, the stained glass windows depict the life of Mary: the first shows the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38); the next Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-45); the third the presentation of Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:21-38); the fourth, the flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15); and the last, the wedding feast at Cana where Jesus performs his first miracle turning water into wine (John 2:1-11.)
In 1963 the current Stations of the Cross replaced original oil paintings in mahogany frames. In the back left corner, outside the confessional, is a statue of St Anthony of Padua.
|The Jardine Organ
|The pipe organ in the Church of the Most Holy Trinity is thought to have been built in New York during the Civil War but not installed until October 1868 because of the Union blockade of Southern ports. Built by George Jardine and Son of New York City, it contains 1,520 pipes.
The organ was the first large instrument built by Jardine for a Southern church in the Post-bellum period. In 1994, the organ was completely restored by Messrs. Henry Hawkinson and Morris Spearman of Charlotte, North Carolina and was selected by the Organ Historical Society as "an instrument of exceptional historic merit, worthy of preservation."
Most Holy Trinity's organ is the largest extant 19th-century organ remaining in the South and one of the largest Jardines in the country.
Nursery/Mother's Day Out
Nursery provided during Sunday Morning Masses 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
MDO Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
For nursery Information call: Mrs. Barbara O'Grady, 706-722-4944 ext 315
Mother's Day Out Director, Mrs.Cheryl Weinard, 706-228-4887, email@example.com
Adoration and Holy Hour: Adoration follows the Thursday 12:15 pm. Mass concluding at 4:30 pm.
Wednesday Nights: Wednesday night fellowship and supper followed by programs for every age. The supper begins at 6 pm with the programs scheduled for 7:00 pm. September - May. 10 Mass Choir Rehearsal - 7 pm - 9 pm in the Choir Suite, 2nd floor of St. Francis Hall.
Baptisms: Pre-Baptism Class required. Parents must be registered and attending Mass.
Marriages: Must contact priest four months in advance prior to setting date. Must be registered and attending Mass.
Sacraments of the Sick: Call parish office, 706-722-4944, when hospitalized or seriously ill.
|Parish Religious Education (PRE) Program
|Sunday 11:20 am - 12:20 pm., September - May. Every child should be enrolled in parish religious education classes or in a Catholic school. If you have any question please call contact Barbara O'Grady, Director Religious Education, at 722-4944 ext 315.
Adult Religious Education: Sunday 11:20 am - 12:20 pm., September - May. See the church bulletin for additional religious education opportunities.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA): Non-Catholics interested in learning more about the Church should contact the parish office.
Parish Council: Meets once a month. All are welcome.
|Phone & Address
|Phone: 706-722-4944 - Address: 720 Telfair Street, Augusta Georgia 30901
Augusta Gerogia Canal
Group Educational and Field Trip Activities
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