Trinity Episcopal Pro-Cathedral (Mount of Olives)
2012 East Superior Street | Architect: John B. Sutcliffe | Built: 1907 | Extant
Episcopalians have had a place to pray in Duluth since before it was a city, constructing the community’s first church building in 1869 at 209 North Lake Avenue. But it wasn’t until the 1890s that Minnesota’s Episcopalian church decided to form a diocese for northeastern Minnesota based in Duluth. Duluth’s Episcopalians were shocked in 1897 when Dr. John D. Morrison of Ogdensburg, New York, was elected its missionary bishop, bypassing St. Paul’s Reverend Albert Ryan. In 1901 Morrison began conducting services out of a former Duluth Street Railway Company streetcar barn on the southeast corner of Twentieth Avenue East and Superior Street. Early members included notable families, such as those of iron mining tycoon George H. Crosby, lumber baron Thomas Merrill, and banker Albert Ordean.
In 1905 Morrison, in order to create a Cathedral parish, divided Duluth into territories. St. Paul’s would serve those living between Twelfth Avenue West and Eleventh Avenue East. A new church, to be named Trinity Mission Church, would cover from Eleventh to Thirty-Sixth Avenues East, Woodland Park, and Park Point. The car barn would be demolished and its lot used for the new church.
The congregation hired noted architect John Sutcliffe, with construction overseen by local architects Bray & Nystrom. Sutcliffe, an Episcopalian himself, was also the official architect of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, and had designed many churches throughout the U.S. He specialized in Gothic Revival and chose a rural English Gothic Revival design for his Duluth edifice, facing it with rough-hewn red sandstone. Like many other Gothic churches, the two-and-a-half-story church is cruciform (shaped in the form of a cross) and features gabled dormers along the east and west façades. A large lancet window divided with tracery graces the Superior Street gable end, which includes an entrance portico at either corner of the otherwise unadorned building.
When its cornerstone was laid, newspapers explained that the building would become a chapel when a cathedral was eventually built adjacent to it. So when the building was dedicated in May 1907, it was considered a pro-cathedral—a church temporarily serving as a cathedral. Plans for a new cathedral were scrapped in 1915, and so the 1907 church officially became the diocese’s cathedral. An attempt to combine the congregations of Trinity and St. Paul’s failed in 1935, mostly due to opposition by parishioners of Trinity.
In 1955 Trinity’s congregation joined with that of St. John’s Episcopal Church at 5107 East Superior Street in Lakeside, forming the congregation of St. Edward’s Episcopal, which constructed a new building at 4401 Glenwood Street two years later. That year trinity Cathedral was sold to Mount Olive English Lutheran Church, whose congregation relocated from their 1922 church at 1901 East Fourth Street. St. Edward’s closed in 2006, and the Fourth Street church is owned by River Church today. Today, Mount of Olive’s congregation continues to worship in the 1907 building.