The first Episcopal services in Davenport were held in 1836 and were conducted by a traveling Episcopal clergyman. When the Wisconsin Territory was set with boundaries to include Iowa, Bishop Jackson Kemper was petitioned and Davenport was adopted as a mission station in 1838.

Trinity Episcopal Parish was established in 1841 worshiping in the residence of Dr. John Emerson at 219 East Second St. The first missionary was the Rev. Zachariah Goldsmith of Virginia. The first church that Trinity Parish erected was a small frame building at Fourth and Main Streets, with a rude altar, plank benches and a round stove in the nave. Trinity’s second church at Fifth and Pershing (then called Rock Island) Streets was built in 1852 in a Gothic style with a rose window and was the first church in Iowa to have a pipe organ. This building was destroyed by fire in 1874. Trinity then erected a new stone church with bell tower, rectory and day school at the S.W. corner of Seventh and Brady Streets.

Another parish,  St. Luke’s, built a large brick church on the N.W. corner of Seventh and Brady Streets in 1857 but had financial problems and sold it in 1864 to the Presbyterians who later sold it to Putnam Museum and this was where the museum was located for many years. in 1864, Christ Mission Church was built at Third and Pine Streets. It was a timber structure with vertical siding and a bell tower.

In 1854, The Rev. Henry Washington Lee of Rochester, N.Y. was elected first Bishop of Iowa. Lee had dynamic ideas, a driving energy and he created a fund for the Diocese with the sale of lands he had purchased in the West, through contacts with Eastern churchmen and generous gifts from friends at St. Luke’s Church, Rochester, including a large gift from David J. Ely. With this fund, Bishop Lee’s dream of a beautiful cathedral was realized. Lee contacted one of the leading church architects in the country, Edward Tuckerman Potter of New York City who designed the new building. It was Gothic in architecture and of such construction that it would remain through the centuries as a witness to the Christian faith. In 1873, the structure was consecrated and named Grace Cathedral since that was the name of the New York church from which gifts had come predominately from two families. Less than 10% of the funds came from Iowans. The cathedral’s name was changed to Trinity Cathedral in 1910 when Grace Cathedral and Old Trinity Parish united to become a single parish. In 1928, Christ Mission Church merged into the Cathedral.

In 1960, St. Alban’s Church was organized, largely financed by Trinity Cathedral, and was located in N.W. Davenport. In 1966, St. Peter’s Church was organized and a modernistic church was built in Bettendorf.

The C.C. Cook Parish House of Trinity Cathedral was built in 1917 and it served the parish well for many years until it deteriorated and had to be replaced. In 1993, the new Haines Parish House was completed after a parish-wide fund drive had raised more than two million dollars to build it. It was named for Elizabeth Haines who made the largest single gift toward its construction. Haines Parish House is connected to the Cathedral building through two cloisters enclosing an outdoor garden or garth. The Parish House features a Great Hall, an octagonal chapel, kitchen facilities, classrooms, offices and a children’s chapel.

In 1998, a 131 ft. tall spire and bell tower was erected due to the desire and generosity of a lifelong parishioner, Elizabeth Haines, who totally paid for it. The spire had been part of Architect Potter’s original plans but it was not included when the cathedral was built due to lack of sufficient funds. Now more than 130 years after the cornerstone was laid, Bishop Henry Washington Lee’s dream of a beautiful cathedral atop the hill in Davenport is finally complete with a magnificent spire and bell tower.


1836 First Episcopal service in Iowa.

1841 Trinity Parish organized, worshipped in the residence of Dr. John Emerson, 219 E. 2nd St. First church building of Trinity Parish on northwest corner of 4th and Main Streets.

1852 Second church building of Trinity Parish on southeast corner of 5th and Pershing Streets. The first pipe organ in Iowa is installed. Pine Hill Cemetery is purchased.

1855 St. Luke’s Parish organized.

1864 Christ Church, a mission church of Trinity Parish, is built at 3rd and Pine Streets.

1867 June 27 – cornerstone laid for Grace Cathedral, named after the parish in New York City whose members provided much of the funding.

1873 June 18 – consecration of Grace Cathedral.

1879 Clarissa C. Cook Home for the Friendless established.

1884 St. Katharine’s Episcopal School for Girls (now Rivermont Collegiate).

1893 St. Luke’s Hospital established (now part of Genesis Hospital).

1909 Trinity Parish and Grace Cathedral begin worshipping together.

1910 Grace Cathedral renamed Trinity Cathedral to preserve the name of the original parish.

1928 Christ Mission Church merged with Trinity.

1941 Cancel and Sacristy remodeled to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Trinity Cathedral.

1960 St. Alban’s Church organized by members of Trinity Cathedral.

1966 St. Peter’s Church organized by members of Trinity Cathedral.

1979 New tracker organ installed in the Cathedral by Hellmuth Wolff of Quebec.

1983 Sacristy remodeled (after old organ was removed).

1984 Bell tower memorial; the cathedral is finally finished after 117 years!

1991 Trinity Cathedral celebrates its Sesquicentennial.

1993 October 10 – Haines Parish House dedicated and consecrated.

1994 Positive Parenting at Trinity established.

1998 Addition of the 131ft. tall spire.