Category Archives: Black History

Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church

Published / by Martha Hernandez / Leave a Comment

Write up by Martha Hernandez

Placed by: Utah State Historical Society

GPS Coordinates: N 40° 45.390 W 111° 53.025

Historical Marker Text: Organized during the 1880’s by the Reverend T. Saunders, this congregation has served as a focus of Black religious, social, and cultural activity in Utah from territorial days to the present. In 1907 property at this spot was acquired, and a church designed by Hurly Howell was constructed through the sacrifice and energy of the congregation under the Revered T.C. Bell. Restoration was begun in 1976 under the Reverend D.D. Wilson.

Extended Research:
The beginnings of the African Methodist Episcopal church of Salt Lake City can be traced back to an organizational meeting led by Reverend James Saunders on November 1890.[1] Although initially located on Fourth West and Sixth South, the African Methodist Episcopal church switched locations several times between 1890 and 1910. Additional changes took place under the leadership of Reverend McIntyre, including a name change. The A.M.E. Church became the Trinity African Methodist Episcopal church.[2]

Finally, in 1907, after years of holding church meetings in private homes, the congregation of the Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church fundraised and purchased the land property where the Trinity A.M.E. still stands today. Construction of the church building began in 1909 and restoration took place under Reverend D.D. Wilson in 1976.

The Trinity A.M.E. Church is located at 239 East Martin Luther King Boulevard (600 South) in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Trinity A.M.E. has Gothic revival architecture. The building is small and rectangular with a square tower, stained-glass windows, wooden doors, and a red brick exterior.

In addition to providing religious services, the Trinity A.M.E. played a critical role in the development of community for African Americans in Salt Lake City between 1890 and 1910. Shortly after the founding of the Trinity A.M.E., the African American community in Salt Lake City founded fraternal orders, civic and social clubs, and a women’s club.[3] The small population size of the African American community in Salt Lake City, along with racial prejudice against African Americans at the national level between 1847 and 1910 created the need for spaces where African Americans could worship, congregate, socialize, and support each other.[4] African American churches like Trinity A.M.E. served the spiritual and secular needs of their members.

In 2012 the Trinity A.M.E. Church suffered water damage to its basement walls, which caused attendance to dwindle to about 50 worshipers per week.[5] As of 2017, the Trinity A.M.E. church is a living landmark and continues to serve its congregation by holding religious services including Sunday morning worship, church school, bible study, and special events like film screenings.[6]

 

[1] Miriam B. Murphy, “African Americans Built Churches.” Utah Historical Quarterly.

[2] Ronald G. Coleman, “A History of Blacks in Utah, 1825-1910”. (PhD dissertation, University of Utah, 1980), 90-91.

[3] Ronald G. Coleman, “African American Community and Politics, 1890-1910,” Utah Historical Quarterly.

[4] George M. Fredrickson, The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914, (New York: Harper & Row, 1971).

[5] Donald W. Myers, “Faiths Rally to Restore Historic Salt Lake City Church”. The Salt Lake Tribune. February 16, 2012.

[6] Kristen Moulton, “Salt Lake City Church Screens Raw but Redemptive ‘Precious’”. The Salt Lake Tribune. July 2, 2010.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Moulton, Kristen. “Salt Lake City Church Screens Raw but Redemptive ‘Precious’”. The Salt Lake Tribune. July 2, 2010. http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=9972498&itype=storyID

Myers W. Donald. “Faiths Rally to Restore Historic Salt Lake City Church”. The Salt Lake Tribune. February 16, 2012. http://archive.sltrib.com/story.php?ref=/sltrib/news/53513844-78/church-bachman-ame-utah.html.csp

Secondary Sources:

Coleman G. Ronald. “A History of Blacks in Utah, 1825-1910”. (PhD dissertation, University of Utah, 1980), 90-91.

Coleman G. Ronald. “African American Community and Politics, 1890-1910.” Utah Historical Quarterly. https://heritage.utah.gov/tag/trinity-african-methodist-episcopal-church

Fredrickson M. George. The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914, (New York: Harper & Row, 1971).

Murphy B. Miriam. “African Americans Built Churches.” Utah Historical Quarterly. https://heritage.utah.gov/history/uhg-african-americans-built-churches