Modest and Faithful Beginnings

Early pioneers who founded Excelsior in 1853 also founded Trinity Church, which had its beginning in homes but 1855 moved to a log church on St. Alban’s Bay at Lake Minnetonka. In 1861 the congregation’s decision to build a new church was hampered by the St. Alban’s sawmill burning down and the Civil War, but across the bay in Excelsior, however, conditions were brighter. Construction began on a new chapel in Excelsior in 1862 and was completed in 1864. Bishop Whipple, the first Bishop of Minnesota, consecrated Trinity Church on Ascension Day in 1864.

The little mission parish had good times and bad throughout the 1800s, but by the turn of the century, new parish hall was added and the church had become a major part of Excelsior village life. It still had mission status, however, meaning that it was dependent upon the diocese for support.

In 1940, after relying on the diocese for nearly 80 years, Trinity became an independent parish and a full-fledged member of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota. In 1949 the Chapel was expanded to meet the needs of the growing parish. A new and larger sanctuary was consecrated in 1970 but the historic Chapel has remained an important part of the parish; it is the only original church building standing in Excelsior and the oldest Episcopal Church in Minnesota still in use. 

In 1998, a large portion of the existing building was demolished and rebuilt. Chamberlin Hall, named after Trinity’s first and founding priest, replaced the 1926 parish hall. A new kitchen, library, office spaces, vesting area, elevator, and atrium area were included in this remodel. In 2006–2007 the main sanctuary and narthex areas were completely remodeled and refurnished, including a new baptismal font and altar. In 2011 Trinitarians celebrated the sound of a new Hendrickson pipe organ, the finishing touch to its sanctuary redesign.

Throughout the years, parishioners of all ages have not only contributed to the life of the parish but also have been active leaders in the community and in the greater Episcopal Church of Minnesota.