Built between 1926 and 1927, the complex of buildings that make up the First Trinity campus have been serving the needs of the Pittsburgh Lutheran community for over seventy years. The church was designed in the fifteenth century Gothic style by Corbusier and Lenski, famed architects from Cleveland. The builder was Edward Wehr of Pittsburgh. Total cost of the new building was approximately $400,000. First Trinity is constructed of Bedford, Indiana limestone, suggesting the classical medieval cathedrals of Europe. The high ceiling in the nave contributes to an atmosphere of deep devotion and high aspirations toward God. The stained glass windows illustrate Bible people and scenes, dedicated to the whole Word of God.
Trinity Church, the center of Christian faith and life for First Trinity Evangelical-Lutheran Congregation and her missions.
Photo ©1999 by Frank Webb
Favoring the style of fifteenth century English gothic cathedrals, Trinity Church can seat over 350 people. The church is acoustically “alive” making it a fine setting for preaching, corporate singing and chanting, and the 52 rank Skinner organ. In the words of its architect, O.L. Lenski, “It is a temple reared about the altar, yet subordinate and leading up to it, growing more splendid and beautiful as the sanctuary is approached.”
The stained glass windows each tell a biblical story and lead one’s attention to the centrality of the cross on which our salvation was won and the altar on which our salvation is given.
Originally built to house the East End Lutheran School, the Parish House contains several remarkable architectural features. The main lecture hall is an example of the “Cleveland design” Sunday School meeting room of the late nineteenth century in which seven open alcove classrooms surround a main assembly space. The old school rooms incorporate intricate moldings, leaded glass, rich woodwork, and gothic fireplaces. A large auditorium with a stage on the second floor is suitable for film screenings, small theatrical productions, and musical recitals. The “Ladies Parlor” is a bright room dominated by a stone hearth and supported by an ample kitchen and dining facility.
Today, the parish house is being transformed to suit the needs of the modern church. Two school rooms have been converted into a pastor’s study / conference room and the offices of First Trinity Church and the Pittsburgh Area Lutheran Ministries. The Sunday School has moved to the second floor auditorium and its supporting classrooms. The main lecture hall is now the main Bible Study room as well as home to the Pittsburgh Lutheran Center for the Blind. It also serves as a meeting place for the Pittsburgh Pastoral Conference, Pittsburgh Area Lutheran Ministries, and the Augsburg Academy of Pittsburgh. The alcoves are in the process of being renovated for the Pittsburgh Lutheran History Center and the Chapel of the Resurrection of our Lord among other uses. “Luther House” – the Lutheran Student Center for the several university campuses in the Oakland area will encompass the wing formerly housing the “Ladies Parlor.”
Showing a German influence, the house adjacent to the main buildings was originally the home of the Reverend William Broecker and is still the home of the pastor and his family. Even though some contemporary updates have been made to the house’s infrastructure, some of the original “modern” innovations are still serving their original function such as an inter-house signaling and doorbell system. The woodwork, detail, and stained glass lend an ecclesiastical nature to this striking family dwelling.
Driveways, Parking, and Grounds
Originally designed for carriages and a few early-model automobiles, the driveways are narrow and require a slow speed for safety. Faced with the growing use of automobiles, in 1952 the congregation leveled the old tennis court and playing field in the rear of the property to construct a parking lot suitable for up to twenty-five vehicles.
The well-lit grounds still boast several large shade trees in the front which provide a green haven in the midst of the city. A large lawn serves as the setting for the limestone buildings and even an occasional picnic lunch. The rose gardens about the property are in need of renovation which will be attended to in the future.