Trinity Park

“The Circle” was the central focus of the campground where thousands would gather to worship outdoors, in the two prayer pavilions and Tabernacle. It remains the heart of the Mount Tabor community.

Trinity Park, or as it was commonly known, “The Circle,” was the chief point of interest upon the grounds because it was here the public services were held. It was the physical and spiritual center of the community. 

It was reported in 1877 that “the Circle will seat 4,000 people and within hearing of the services 8,000 people can congregate. There have been times in the past when no less than 12,000 people have been packed within this enclosure.”

A cast iron fountain was put in place at the top of Trinity Park in 1875 at a cost of $225. A lovely addition to the campgrounds, the fountain was described in A Story of Camp Meeting, by Mary Harriott Norris, as “…tossing aloft its sparkling waters, refreshing the ferns and flowers which clustered around its basin.”

This photo from Franklin N. Barrett’s photo album shows Trinity Park in August 1890 with Mrs. Osee FitzGerald’s cottage to the left and the tent of Dr. Daniel Lowrie named “Sweet Home” on the right. The Tabernacle is seen in the far distance through the trees.

Long after many others had built cottages on their lots, Dr. Lowrie’s family continued to enjoy the pleasures of tent living. Dr. Lowrie, of Bloomfield, was a prominent leader of the campground. He served as president of the Camp Meeting Association board from 1887 to 1896 and ran the Young People’s Services. 

His dwelling was described in the Mt. Tabor Daily Record: “At the other side of the fountain is the delightful residence… a tent in the foreground and a cottage in the rear. It strikes one very pleasantly, especially with its suggestive name, ‘Sweet Home.’ There are other places on the grounds more pretentious, and some which are more elegant, but there is none more artistic than this.”

To the left of the fountain, this cottage was built in 1877 for Mrs. Osee FitzGerald, an active leader in the Holiness Movement. Her son, Rev. James N. FitzGerald was elected a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1888. He served as the second president of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association from 1897 until his death in 1907. 

The FitzGerald cottage was described in 1877 as: “a very commodious and well-arranged cottage on the South side. She takes up her residence in the upper story and devotes the lower part to special public meetings upon the subject of holiness.” And in 1882: “The deeply spiritual meetings held during the years at Mrs. FitzGerald’s hospitable cottage, on Morris Avenue, will be continued this year as usual. They open at 8 a.m. and 1 and 6 p.m. thus coming between other regular meetings. They are in fact as in the name “Holiness Meetings”, many earnest souls here seeking a higher life. Mrs. Fitzgerald’s roomy cottage is very generally filled by those whose spiritual life is refreshed and strengthened at the foot of the cross, while frequently the interest is so great the congregation extends out on the avenue.

A plaque in the Tabernacle honors her contribution to the religious life of early Mount Tabor. 

The Memorial Fountain Garden was restored in 1996 and continues to be a place of inspiration with year-round blooms and foliage. Past and present members of the Garden Club who have been beautifying Trinity Park since 1953 are honored here. 
At the top of Trinity Park, across Morris Avenue, you will find Searing Place. Named after an early camp leader Ichabod Searing, it was first mapped as a street. Because it was so steep, it was altered with a series of steps for easier navigation to St. James’ Park.
This passage is now known as the Golden Stairs. One theory for the origination of this name is the idea of ascending a golden stairway to heaven. 
You’ll find this cottage directly across Morris Avenue from the fountain. Inscribed in an album beneath this image is the Italian phrase Dolce far niente, meaning the sweetness of doing nothing or pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness.