Adapted by Gloria Colvin, Chair of the Bicentennial Publicity Committee, from an article by Carol Dadisman published in the February 2004 Tidings
The date was January 7, 1826. Tallahassee, the new capital city of territorial Florida, was not yet two years old. Construction was about to begin on the first real capitol building, temporary log cabins having housed earlier meetings of the territory’s Legislative Council.
After the cornerstone for the first wing of the permanent capitol was laid near the site of the present State Capitol, Tallahassee’s leading citizens proceeded to the Methodist Church for the official cornerstone-laying ceremony. The church, later to become Trinity Methodist Church and then Trinity United Methodist Church, was chosen because it was the only meeting place in the frontier village.
In “The Cornerstone of the Capitol,” Mary Lamar Davis describes that early ceremony in the Methodist meeting house. She writes that David B. Macomb, one of Tallahassee’s original citizens and later a judge and postmaster, “delivered an appropriate oration, after which the brethren partook of a splendid dinner prepared by C. Pindar” (Charles Pindar, another original resident). Obviously, Trinity’s reputation for fine oratory and abundant food goes back to the beginning!
We trace our Trinity history to Methodist circuit riders John J. Triggs and John Slade, sent to territorial Florida by the South Carolina Methodist Conference. In Antebellum Tallahassee, Bertram H. Groene writes that Triggs and Slade gave occasional sermons in the new capital “which probably were the first ever preached in the city.”
The Conference later sent James Tabor and Isaac Sewell to replace Triggs and Slade.
In 1825, Josiah Evans served as the pastor of the newly formed Methodist society that became Trinity. By that time, it had expanded its ranks and collected resources sufficient to build Tallahassee’s first church – described by a later minister as “a small wooden framed house, neither ceiled nor plastered, with no glass in the windows which were closed by solid shutters.” That church was at the corner of what is now Park Avenue and Bronough Street, a block from our current home.
As we start this 200th year, we remember Trinity’s “Heart for the City” – our unique service to Tallahassee and Florida – which began as early as that original congregation, hosting the cornerstone dedication for Florida’s first permanent capitol.