361 Sumner Avenue, Springfield, MA 01108            Ph: 413.737.5311            Fax: 413.781.4083             office@trinityspringfield.org

Fun Facts

Our Trinity Church building is an architectural gem containing many interesting and fun facts.  This page is dedicated to the collection of details about the facility, as well as our busy congregation, that are not necessarily common knowledge to all.  We hope you will not only enjoy reading about these facts, but possibly add bits of your own wisdom.

Please send them to:  al@trinityspringfield.org

All entries are in random order!

~ The ends of the buttresses overhead in the sanctuary are decorated with the emblematic shields of the twelve Apostles.  (Mathias is included, replacing Judas.)  Friezes joining the buttresses have the Beatitudes inscribed in gold with dark blue background above the clerestory windows..

~  The largest bell in our carillon weighs 8000 pounds and is six feet in diameter.  The smallest bell weighs 14 pounds and is seven inches in diameter.

~  With the exception of standard holidays, Trinity Church is open to our congregation, our neighbors, and to the public approximately fourteen hours every day throughout the calendar year!

~  The altar/communion table in the sanctuary is of Sarasota stone from the heart of Africa and was transported over the Sahara Desert by camel trains; loaded onto a ship that sailed through the Mediterranean; across the Atlantic Ocean and offloaded in New York City.  It was then placed on a flat car of a freight train and brought to Springfield.  It was driven by truck to the Church.  Upon arrival, it was carefully moved up to it’s final resting place.  However, while the large stone was being lowered into place in our chancel, one of the lowering chains slipped and the marble fell and cracked into two pieces.  Dr. Fred Winslow Adams, Trinity’s pastor at the time, felt that this crack served well to symbolize the broken body of Christ and the imperfection still remains evident today!

~  Since the Boar’s Head Festival began in 1984, there have been six different program covers.

~  Long-time member, Jane Schneeloch pioneered the first edition of our web site, launched on August 31st, 2002.  Her hard work paid off and the site admirably served our congregation for a decade.  The second edition was launched on March 25th, 2012, organized by our Pastor of Lay Ministry Development, Sue Frost, and features a more modern design with additional historical details and current information about our busy congregation.  We trust there will be more editions to follow!

~  There are 132 visible pipes in the  Skinner sanctuary organ.  Surprisingly, the entire chancel facade is an ornamental false front and not one of these pipes makes a sound!  All pipes that comprise the plethora of organ sounds we hear every Sunday morning are behind these non-functioning pipes!

~  The Boar’s Head Committee has invested considerable resources over the years to formulate an extensive “Pause for Safety” plan.  We are very proud of our record that there has never been a major illness or injury that has stopped any performance.  The cast and crew and many others involved in the production are reminded annually at our safety instructional session.

~  Opened in 1927, Trinity’s pool was the first in Springfield, followed by Springfield College who used our pool until theirs was constructed a few years later.

~  There is a very talented group of people who manage our Boar’s Head Ticket Office with incredible accuracy each year.  All tickets go on sale at the beginning of October and by the end of November, almost all of the approximately 3592 tickets will have been processed for the upcoming BHF production in January.  Each order is well documented for further reference, if necessary, and every order is completed by hand!

~  In the 1960’s, Edith Dorang spent some time in our sanctuary one day with Ms Harriet Higgins, who was heavily involved with the creation and design of all our stained glass windows.  Ms. Higgins carefully called for something very special about the TeDeum window, with the central Chancel focal point featuring the figure of Jesus.  She planned for a special type of glass to form the halo above Christ’s head.  This different texture allows for light to shine through the window at that point – even on the cloudiest days and at dusk.

~  The clerestory and east transept windows were of yellow-glass when the sanctuary was completed.  Their appearance was similar to the windows at Faith Church (across from Friendly’s on Sumner Avenue) as they appear today.  All remaining windows  are the work of Burnham Studios of Boston and were installed by 1929.

~  Grace Chapel gets its name from Grace Church, which was located at Main and Winthrop Streets in Springfield, and merged with Trinity Church in 1922.  The Chapel altar is of African Numidian marble.   The Chapel is designed to seat 150, including the balcony.

~  If you were to take a plane or balloon ride over the Trinity Church property, you would immediately notice that the sidewalk leading from Sumner Avenue to the center building entrance and the crossing walk in between form a beautifully detailed cross.

~  The original sanctuary design (including the two balconies and transept) had a seating capacity of 1200.  The side balcony today is not used due to poor sight lines.  The opposite transept has some remaining pews, but is now the proud home of our wonderful handbell collection.

“Can you hear me now?” Tucked away and out of sight in Trinity’s Singing Tower, on the Choir Room roof, and behind the building, is an amazing array of cell-phone equipment for the purpose of broadcasting local area signals.  Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint all have meticulously threaded their individual cables and controls up into the tower to blend in with the building’s interior while Trinity’s exterior architecture remains undisturbed. During this process, the carillon was never compromised in any way.

~  The sanctuary chandeliers were the very first known examples incorporating stained-glass within a lighting fixture used in a place of worship.  They were crafted by a Bund or wrought-iron workers in Germany and sold through a New York representative.  A Trinity Church donor placed the order as a gesture of goodwill toward what was once termed “an enemy country.”

~  Our Skinner sanctuary organ is comprised of 48 different sets of sounds (or ranks) totaling 2776 individual pipes…plus four toy train whistles which can be activated from the organ console!  Trinity probably has the only church organ in New England and beyond that contains these unlikely sounds!

~  The floor of Grace Chapel is of white Travertine marble, interspersed with marble of different colors from quarries in France, Germany, Belgium, and our own state of Alaska!

~  There was no on-site parking when the Church was finally completed.  Three large homes, with driveways and garages in between, abutted the east side of the structure and were individually purchased over the years to provide space for our current parking lot.

~    A monumental decision was made in 2005 to close Trinity’s pool that had served the entire Springfield area since 1927.  The expense to keep the 78-year-old facility operational became too costly to maintain.  The actual pool itself was leaking as the water level kept decreasing requiring very frequent refilling and some replacement parts were impossible to find.  It was a decision no one wanted to make  but the expense was overwhelming for the Church to absorb.

~  Trinity’s Singing Tower is 100 feet tall.  There are 51 steps from the main sanctuary floor level up to the carillon playing mechanism level.  Another 18 steps up via a circular stairway will offer a spectacular view of the 48 active carillon bells.

~  Below the gallery in the west transept is the beautiful Bethlehem Baptistry with fresco decorations by Rambusch, of New York.  The record cabinet was also designed to match the reredos in the chancel.  The baptismal fount itself is from the old Trinity Church on Bridge Street.

~  An electro-pneumatic player system was first introduced with the installation of Trinity’s carillon allowing the carillon to be preset and played automatically from a roll-player, similar to a roll-player on a piano.  A chronometer was also included to strike the Westminster chime (bells) on the quarter-hour and the time on the hour.  Sadly, the entire player mechanism and quarter-hours/hourly strikes were disconnected many years ago because carillonneurs at the time felt the unit interfered with normal playing.  However, the player mechanism has survived and is still in place (the only such system remaining in North America).

~  In the Lindbergh Window (the single low window in the east transept) the airplane  makes a shadow in the shape of a cross.

~  Our Boar’s Head Festival has completed an amazing total of 139 productions to date.  The first year began with 2, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon; the second year had 3 shows, 2 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday; and the third year had 4 shows; 1 on Friday, 2 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday afternoon.  As a precaution and with the distinct possibility of performance weather cancellations, alternate “snow dates” were instituted that same year (1986).  The Friday “snow date” was Sunday evening; both Saturday shows would move to Sunday and Monday evenings.  Ironically, that same year (1986), a  serious blizzard/ice storm occurred on Friday necessitating the use of a “snow date” and the production was moved to Sunday evening.  It remains the ONLY “snow date” ever used to date.  A small meal had been prepared for the cast and crew for Saturday between shows, but the cast and crew had to bring a bag lunch on Sunday.  It was then we realized that we could do 5 performances in a weekend, which has continued ever since.

~  As part of Phase I of the Skinner sanctuary organ restoration a few years ago, the console (where all the controls, keyboards and Becky are located) is completely moveable and can be moved out as far as the top of the Chancel steps for concerts.

~  There are five pairs of gorgeous chandeliers that were evenly spaced, hung between the hammer beams above, and lined the sanctuary interior when opened in 1929 (as well as a single chandelier hanging in the side transept).  All clerestory windows were initially of unattractive yellow-glass temporarily installed to complete the enclosure of the space.  Eventually, Horace Moses tired of this glass and donated the necessary funding to provide the beautiful clerestory stained-glass windows we all enjoy today.
After all the new windows were installed in 1947, it became evident that an unobstructed view of the new, highly detailed stained-glass windows was hampered by the chandeliers that hung directly in front of each window.  A rather heated controversy ensued regarding this design flaw. Finally, four pairs of chandeliers were moved back and hung from the hammer beams to avoid blocking the new windows.  This is the reason why there is a wider gap between the first pair of chandeliers (nearest the pulpit and lectern) and the remaining four pairs.  Had the problem come to “light” sooner and before the building was completed, there would probably be six pairs of chandeliers today…and more lighting!

~  Hidden in an unsuspected location in our sanctuary are two bulldogs that guard a very important and memorable place.  As you open the carved wooden doors surrounding the baptismal fount (originally from old Trinity Church on Bridge Street) in the Baptistry Transept, you will find these guard dogs at the base of the elaborately carved cover just above the fount.

~  There have been several Friday performances of our Boar’s Head Festival that occurred without animals.  Weather conditions were not severe enough to cancel the Festival.  The animals come to us from western Connecticut and do not travel in icy conditions.  One of those years we quickly found a local farm that loaned us some sheep.  Ironically, performances without animals have occurred only on Friday nights!  One year, a serious snow storm began during the Sunday afternoon performance.  Since the cast, crew and animals were already at the Church, it was decided to continue with the evening performance.  Many ticket holders did not attend, but those who did had a fabulous time with the snow making the event even more special.

~  When the sanctuary access ramp was installed in 1984 outside the chapel, the original granite steps were rendered useless and carefully stored behind the building for many years.  In 2012, the steps were beautifully crafted into benches and strategically placed around the property for the enjoyment of all.

~   After much deliberation, a decision was made to fill in the old pool to make way for a new, completely accessible Community Room.  On Saturday, May 16th, 2015, a Capital Campaign Fundraiser was held in the old pool area for the purpose of saying “good-bye” and “fill the pool” with coins, dollars, and checks to take advantage to a matching gift offer which literally doubled all donations that evening.

~  In 1930, Trinity Church was awarded first prize in the National Building Contest in conjunction with the Conference on Church Architecture in Cleveland, Ohio.

~  Also, as a part of the Phase I Skinner organ restoration project, the organ now has a control called Record/Playback.  This allows the entire instrument (real pipes and all controls) to be internally recorded (without any obvious recording equipment)…and  will then play back exactly as recorded…by itself...with the mere push of a button!

~   In late May of 2015, construction began for the new, completely accessible community room in the area the swimming pool once occupied.  The general purpose of this room will allow Trinity to more easily connect with and serve the local community.  This project was the largest physical alteration to the building since it opened in 1929.  The room would not have been possible without a substantial gift to Trinity Church from long-time members Bill and Lib Hale.  This room was dedicated in their honor on Sunday, October 25th, 2015 and named the Bill and Lib Hale Community Room or Hale Hall.  It should also be noted that during the same time frame, a completely new hot water heating system was installed throughout the entire building.

~ The steps up into the chancel are constructed of golden vein travertine marble from Tivoli, Italy, with inlaid squares of Vermont green marble.  There are six steps representing the six days of Divine labor in creation, but the seventh step just before the altar is for “on the seventh day God rested.”

~  The carillon originally had 60 active bells connected to a four-octave clavier (playing mechanism) with double trebles (bells) for the top octave.  Years later, the double trebles were disconnected because of unsatisfactory coordination in striking, but the 12 extra bells still remain in the frame and are the only such set remaining in the world!  One of the bells was mysteriously removed by a carillon serviceman a few years ago for some unknown reason.  Rather than re-hang the bell back into the tower frame, it has been temporarily installed in the side balcony and is rung vigorously to announce the impending Woodsman’s Stick Dance during the preparation festivities of our Boar’s Head festival!

~  Each classroom beneath the sanctuary is dedicated to a specific missionary from the early 1900’s.

~  There are eleven carved statues on the sanctuary pulpit:  Five major prophets;
Elijah, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.  Five great American preachers, each representing major Protestant denominations;   Francis Asbury (Methodism), Adoniram Judson (Baptist), Horace Bushnell (Congregational), Phillips Brooks (Episcopal) and John Knox (Presbyterian).  The eleventh statue is of Fred Winslow Adams, pastor of Trinity Church at the time of the planning, building, and dedication of the present edifice.

~  The Boar’s Head Festival lighting requirements are vast.  Approximately one half mile of cables is required to independently control the fifty lighting instruments that are placed throughout the sanctuary.  Seven additional units make up the vertical spotlight outside on the TeDeum window over the altar which is lit towards the end of every performance.  Total power necessary for all these fixtures is 30,850 watts (including the TeDeum spotlight) and controlled by a computerized dimming system.  During the end recessional is the only time during the production lighting demands approach maximum wattage usage.

More facts to follow!

15/10/6

Comments are closed.