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National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco

San Francisco Landmark #166: Trinity Presbyterian Church 29 January 2012
(Click Photo to Zoom)
National Register #82002252
Trinity Presbyterian Church
3261 23rd Street at Capp Street
Built 1892

Trinity Presbyterian Church was designed in the Romanesque style by the prominent San Francisco architectural firm Percy & Hamilton.

Percy & Hamilton were important San Francisco architects, much of whose work was lost in 1906. This church is a good example of their work, in virtually unaltered (if weathered) condition. The steeple is particularly well designed and is a local visual landmark. It and the spire of St. John's Lutheran Church a block away on 22nd Street serve as visual bookends at either end of the outstanding row of Stick style houses that line the east side of Capp Street, which were built in 1889/94.

This church is an almost perfect barometer of the social changes that have taken place in San Francisco's Mission district. Built in 1891-92 when the sunny Mission district was a prosperous semi-suburban area, the ups and downs of this congregation perfectly chart the population history of the heart of San Francisco.

Mayor Sunny Jim Rolph, was married here in 1900 to the daughter of a church member.

The church, being virtually undamaged by the 1906 earthquake and standing outside the fire area, served as a relief center.

Following the fire, which destroyed a large part of the Mission district, industry moved in. Many of the large old homes were converted into tenements. The Mission changed from an upper middle class neighborhood to a working class neighborhood. The church saw many of its more prosperous members move to suburbs.

The church responded to the new needs of the Mission. It operated seven days a week as a religious, recreational and social center for the community. Citizenship classes, maternity clinics, legal clinics, musical instruction, and a host of other programs served the community's physical needs while its spiritual needs were also attended to. At Christmas of 1930, during the hard times of the Depression, one hundred tons of food was distributed to over 3,000 hungry families.

While its deficits mounted and transiency among its members increased, Trinity heroically served the needs of San Franciscans. As new groups such as Spanish-speaking and Hungarian-speaking residents moved into the Mission, Trinity reached out to serve them. In the 1970's, when gay Christians needed a place to worship, Trinity, now Mission United Church, opened its doors.

Adapted from the NRHP nomination form.

The church, now named Iglesia Presbiteriana de la Mision, remains a congregation of the Presbytery of San Francisco.

Trinity Presbyterian Church is also San Francisco Landmark 166.

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