Historic Holy Trinity Episcopal Church was formed in the living room of the founder of the City of Covina, J.S. Phillips, on Trinity Sunday in 1887. Mrs. Phillips and Mrs. B.F. Cook were instrumental in getting things started. The Rev. John D.H. Browne, who had resigned from All Saints’ Church, Pasadena, the year before because of ill health and was now residing in Pomona, began services in Glendora, Azusa, and Covina; finally confining his work, as far as the Sunday services were concerned, to Covina.
In 1891 General Houghlin, of San Francisco, gave two lots on which to build a church, and a small building was erected that same year. A few Sundays after it had been consecrated by Bishop Nichols, a tremendous and unusual windstorm from the north broke over the valley, and the church was blown down and completely destroyed. Nothing daunted, the congregation in a few months built another and a better building at a cost of about $1300; friends in San Francisco aiding the people of Covina with the Good work.
In 1906 the Mission was organized as a parish, and Fr. Alfred Fletcher was elected first rector. In 1908, under the urgency of the rector’s wife, a canvass was begun for funds to build the present church and in December of 1910 the cornerstone of the present building was laid with appropriate services by Bp. Johnson; the architect being Mr. A.B. Benton of Los Angeles. Benton is perhaps best known as the architect of the Mission Inn in Riverside. The design of the present church was inspired by sketches the rector made of various parish churches while traveling through the English countryside. The architecture also combines elements of the Gothic Revival and American Craftsman movements.
The Architect Arthur B. Benton
Arthur B. Benton, Architect (1858-1927) By Charles J. Fisher
He was born in Illinois and at the ultimate urging of his wife, he enrolled Topeka, Kansas, School of Art and Design, in 1887. The following year he gave up farming and went to work for two years as a draftsman in the architectural department of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. When he graduated from college in 1890, he relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, where he worked as a draftsman in the chief engineer’s office of the Union Pacific. In 1891 he moved with his family to Los Angeles and, in 1893, he went into an architectural partnership with William C. Aiken.
One of his early designs was the 1896 Shingle Style spec house at 8001 Kensington Road. Though built for the designer of that tract, he ultimately purchased the home that was to become his home for life. It is at 801 E. Kensington Road in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles. He developed an interest in restoring and preserving the Old Spanish and Mexican Missions and was one of the founders of the California Landmarks Club. He supervised the restorations of the San Juan Capistrano and San Diego Missions. Benton had become intrigued with the Missions and soon became a vocal proponent for Mission Revival architecture. Many of his articles on the subject were published in the architectural magazine “The Land of Sunshine” Probably his most ‘famous’ commission was for much of the Mission in Riverside, Calif. But over the years he designed many churches including, First Church of Christian Science, Riverside; All Saints, Duarte; All Saints By-the-Sea, Montecito; St John the Evangelist, Chico; Trinity Episcopal Mission, originally at Port Hueneme but now in Fillmore; Holy Trinity, Covina; St Mark’s, Upland, and Church of the Advent in Los Angeles. Most of these church buildings incorporated Gothic and Craftsman features, making use of rich wood and traditional stonework, which had become a signature of Benton’s design skills, and which was preferred by his Episcopal clients. However, his First Church of Christian Science was not his only work outside of his own denomination or the Gothic style. Benton also had a number of significant institutional commissions, such as several for both the YMCA and the YWCA. His best known and most lavish work in this area is his 1912 Mary Andrews Clark YWCA home, in Los Angeles. At least three other major hotels were part of his resume. The Mission Revival Arlington Hotel in Santa Barbara, which was virtually leveled in the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake; the Arrowhead Hotel, located in the foothills north of San Bernardino; and the San Marcos Hotel in Chandler, Arizona. In 1922 he designed the Mission Playhouse in San Gabriel to supply a permanent venue for the Mission Play, written by John Stephen McGroarty. The design was based on a re-creation of the front of the Mission San Antonio, but at twice its original scale. His last major work was the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, which was completed in 1927. It takes us back to Benton’s architectural roots, as it was designed in the Mission Revival Style that he helped to pioneer. Arthur Benton passed away at his beloved Angeleno Heights home on Sunday, September 18, 1927, at the age of 69, leaving a rich architectural legacy in Southern California. Over the years, many forgot about him and his work. Yet, today, especially in the last two decades, historians and communities from Santa Barbara to Riverside are finally recognizing his legacy and his true contribution to the historic built environment of Southern California and beyond. © 2005 by Charles J. Fisher
The Priests of Holy Trinity Church, Dates of Service
The Rev. John D.H. Brown 1889-1896
The Rev. W. J. O’Brien 1889
The Rev. W. F. Ashbridge 1898
The Rev. James Matthews 1898–1901
The Rev. Alfred Fletcher (First Rector) 1901–1916
The Rev. Charles T. Murphy 1916–1921
The Rev. L. M. Idleman 1921–1923
The Rev. W. A. A. Shipway 1923–1925
The Rev. Maurice L. Kain 1925–1929
The Rev. Bertrand M. Hause 1929–1942
The Rev. C. Lee Mills 1942–1949
The Rev. Edward W. Kilburn 1949–1956
The Rev. F. Philip Dignam 1956–1959
The Rev. D. Miles Dawson 1960–1968
The Rev. Robert Chalinor 1968–1974
The Rev. Richard D. Thompson 1974–1992
The Rev. Judith A. Heffron 1993-1995
The Very Rev. Canon Judith A. Heffron 1995-2013
Rector, Rector Emeritus
The Rev. Mark D. Stuart 2013–2015
The Rev. William L. Peyton 2013-Present
The Rev. Steven H. De Muth 2013-2017
Associate Priest, Priest-in-charge
The Rev. Steven H. De Muth 2017–Present