The sanctuary that now houses Trinity Episcopal Church will soon be 100 years old — a significant milestone for one of the oldest buildings in downtown Clanton, especially considering the church went years without a congregation.
The church building dates back to around 1913, when the Seventh Day Adventist Church bought the property and built the sanctuary, making it one of the oldest existing houses of worship in Clanton.
Some churches in Clanton are older, but they aren’t in their original buildings today.
The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama bought the building in 1954. The original mission started in 1947, before the church was even purchased, and was active through the ‘50s and ‘60s.
The congregation would wane in subsequent years, before disbanding. From 1970 to 1995, no church held services inside Trinity. The church’s current rector, Bill King, said his research shows it was hard for the small church to get a priest to Clanton regularly for services.
But that didn’t mean the building was shuttered — instead it was used as a private day care center and preschool.
The Episcopal Church was reestablished in 1995 and was approved a permanent parish in 2009.
“The Diocese thankfully didn’t sell the property,” King said.
Over the decades, the building has seen several renovations — but little touches of the original church remain until today, King said.
All the clear glass windows are the originals, except for the two in the front of the building.
“Those windows are as old as the building itself,” King said.
Also, the original, hand-cut wood beams and pine floors exist through today as a testament to the church’s construction.
“This church is so solidly built,” King said.
Work was done on the building when the Diocese decided to reopen the mission in the mid-’90s. More recently, central air and heating was added to the building around 2006.
The little church that could, once without a congregation, now enjoys one 75 strong that might soon run out of room.
“Now, it’s an active parish again,” King said.
Whatever the future holds for Trinity, King said it would be key to preserve the building’s important and unique role in Chilton County’s history.
“We want to maintain the historic character of the church,” King said.