The Center of Newport. The Middle Ground of a Community.
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The Vision: A New Asset for Newport
For the new building, Trinity worked closely with Northeast Collaborative Architects to achieve a tasteful, sustainable design harmonious with the historic setting and compliant with state and local requirements. The proposed three-level, two-story design will provide:
Spacious, flexible meeting rooms
A 150-seat assembly room
(200 if mezzanine is utilized)
Community Policing Office
Dedicated Music Suite
Meeting space for community programs, music activities, etc.
Making the Case – An Overview of Trinity Serves
After years of research, analysis, and planning to understand the needs of our community and our role in meeting those needs, Trinity Church is ready to act with a bold plan to restore and renew our centrally-located campus to better serve the parish and the people of Newport and the surrounding areas.
Maintaining the historic church building as the central feature of the campus, the project will:
- Increase and improve usable program space through the construction of a new, environmentally and historically sensitive building on the site and foundation of the former Carr-Rice House;
- Restore Honyman Hall for continued and expanded use and improved accessibility;
- Positively affect the preservation of the historic church building through interior restoration and by ensuring that the supporting organization, the parish, is healthy, engaged, and continuing to grow;
- Address critical issues of pedestrian and vehicle traffic flow on the campus.
More than the construction or repair of buildings, however, this is a campaign to support and expand service to and with the community. The built environment is merely a tool, although an essential one, to bring to life a variety of creative partnerships and collaborations. Success will not be measured in square feet, but in lives affected. Success will not be just another building, but the creation and utilization of a true community asset.
Background and Basics
Newport’s historic Trinity Church is a beacon of a community committed to serving and supporting one another and those in need. Across four centuries, Trinity has confronted change and growth with confidence, wisdom, faith, and resourcefulness. Today, Trinity looks toward another century of service and leadership with a vision to restore and renew its historic campus in the heart of Newport.
From Outpost to Landmark
Trinity’s Queen Anne Square campus, now a landmark of worship, architecture, history, and community service, is the product of over 300 years of effort. Founded in 1698 as the first outpost of the Church of England in the colony of Rhode Island, Trinity’s buildings and grounds have always served as physical tools of its mission to sustain and serve.
Through the centuries, when calculated in today’s dollars, Trinity’s faithful members have invested an estimated $24 million to develop the current campus, ultimately providing the city of Newport with one of its most cherished historical assets. Trinity’s first big investment came in 1725-26, when the congregation gave away its original church building and began construction of the beautiful, grand church that today graces Queen Anne Square.
In each of the myriad improvements, adjustments, repairs, and expansions that have happened since then, Trinity recommitted itself to the community. The latter half of the 20th century alone saw construction of two auxiliary buildings (Honyman Hall and Carr-Rice), comprehensive structural and interior stabilization of the historic church building, and collaboration in a community effort to create and care for Queen Anne Square.
Learning Through Change and Challenge
Generations of Trinity’s members and leaders have offered steadfast responsiveness to a changing faith community and changing Newport. Trinity itself encountered a number of internal stresses and challenges into the 1990s, including declining attendance, membership loss, and financial pressures.
And yet, when faced with the very real possibility of closure in 2008-09, Trinity responded with characteristic enthusiasm and decided it would not only remain open, but actively return to its centuries-long mission to the community. Gifted and dedicated faith and lay leaders envisioned new ways of engaging and connecting the parish and community. The organization turned outward, discovering the unique gifts and assets, as well as the particular needs, of the community, looking to a future of collaboration and creative partnerships. Once a solo voice atop a hill in a Colonial city, Trinity enters the 21st Century in concert with a variety of individuals and organizations, all for the betterment of our city and region.
Love for music, compassion for the underserved, fervor for community, and Trinity’s natural hospitality informed this renewed vision for the church. Trinity deepened relationships with local churches, non-profits, and local governments, discovering partners throughout the area willing to join the congregation’s passionate quest to serve the region and its diverse populations.
Today, the yearly value of Trinity to the economy of Newport is estimated at approximately $1 million based on the preliminary draft of a Halo Study – a methodology developed by the University of Pennsylvania and Partners for Sacred Places. The Community Meal, Newport Community Youth Choir, chamber music concerts, historical tours, and other programs are social, cultural, and financial boons to Newport and the surrounding towns.
Trinity’s Next Challenge
Trinity’s expanding mission requires space that is attractive and effective for a wide variety of uses. Unfortunately, the loss of the 40-year old Carr-Rice Building has left a dearth of usable space on the campus. Likewise, Trinity is not currently equipped to satisfy the identified need for office and meeting space among a variety of social and public service agencies seeking to pursue their own missions in downtown Newport. Facing a real need for space, energized by new and expanding partnerships, and continuing a long tradition of service, Trinity has decided to act.
Mindful of the church’s growing internal and external ministries, and after thoroughly considering a number of different renovation options, Trinity’s vestry concluded the best path forward was to replace Carr-Rice with a community-oriented structure that includes flexible, multi-purpose spaces and welcoming facades. Trinity has worked with Northeast Collaborative Architects to identify unique space needs and design a community responsive facility. At its December 2015 meeting, Newport’s Historic District Commission approved both the demolition of the Carr-Rice Building and the proposed design of a new structure to replace it.