With grant funding from the Cane River National Heritage Area, an insurance payment for storm damage, and a loan from the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, Trinity Episcopal Church is moving forward with a much needed restoration of the bell tower of the historic church on Second Street in Natchitoches. Trinity Episcopal Church carries with it many memories and associations dating back to pre-Civil War days. It was the first non-Catholic church in Natchitoches and the third Episcopal Church in Louisiana.
Work will include repair/replacement of damaged exterior mortar and brick and restoration of the exterior of the bell tower windows. The firm of Thomas & Parker Waterproofing Company from Shreveport is the contractor with work projected to be completed before the Trinity Episcopal Preschool reconvenes in August.
Work on the church and bell tower began when the cornerstone was laid in April 1857. Regular services began on Ash Wednesday, 1858. A large percentage of funds for the original building was given by Major General J. Watts de Peyster of Tivoli, New York, in memory of his daughter Maria, who died in 1857. The tower bell, said to be one-third silver, is inscribed “West Troy Bell Foundry, NY 1857. Presented to Trinity Church, Natchitoches by J. Watts de Peyster as a token of respect and regard for Thomas Scott Bacon, its first rector and his friend.”
Thomas & Parker employees photographed this inscription on the bell as well as the following Luke 2:14 bible verse that had not been documented. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men! Luke 2nd 14”
The restoration project began with the removal of the protective polycarbonate panels covering the exterior of the lower windows. Clear acrylic panels will be installed after the windows are restored and frames are painted. As the work on the windows continues, power washing of the outside has begun to clean the centuries-old bricks. Cleaning is necessary before beginning the process of “spot tuckpointing,” which replaces the mortar between the bricks where it is missing. Because some of the mortar remains solid, the brick wall does not have to be completely replaced. Some spalled bricks will also be repaired or replaced. The preservation work will maintain the integrity of the original building, securing the structure for generations to come.
In 2011, a Columbarium was installed in Trinity’s Bell Tower. This is a permanent structure made up of niches, which contain the ashes of loved ones. This installation is a natural extension of the church’s role as home for the sacraments, which members experience at various stages of their spiritual journeys. It is a holy space designed to bring peace to all those who enter and is an essential element of the bell tower. For additional information, please contact Donna Yacoe at 601-324-8429.