Trinity Wall Street to close Connecticut conference center

[Trinity Wall Street] The Rev. James H. Cooper, rector of Trinity Wall Street, announced the closure of Trinity’s conference center in West Cornwall in a May 24 letter to the parish. The full letter follows.


A Letter From The Rector

May 24, 2012
Dear Trinity Family,

I am writing today to inform you of a decision undertaken by the current Vestry. After extensive study, conversation, and deliberation, it has been decided that the Trinity Conference Center in West Cornwall, Connecticut, will cease operations effective in November.

The Trinity Conference Center was created so that non-profit and religious organizations could have access to a first-class site for conferences and retreats at reduced and accessible rates. For countless vestries, parishioners, grassroots organizations, and non-profit leaders, the center was a place where excellence in hospitality and beautiful surroundings inspired reflection, conversation, and the kind of being together that truly brought people together. By the banks of the Housatonic River was a peaceful retreat from the fray available at a fraction of the cost of similar facilities.

This is the vision Trinity was able to subsidize and keep alive for more than twenty years.

The decision-making around closure was not made lightly, because all involved deeply understand how the conference center has touched so many people’s lives, including the people of Trinity parish. While not an easy decision to reach, removing parish resources from the conference-center business is a final one. As we begin the process of closing, we enter a period of discernment regarding the best use for its surrounding land, which has been in the parish’s care since 1945.

I am committed to a closing that is as graceful as the hospitality the conference center offered. Clients booked after November are being notified directly with deposits returned. Staff, both full-time and part-time, are being offered end-of-service packages. I thank the staff past and present for their efforts, particularly recognizing Fr. Bob Griffiths and Jon and Wendy Denn. I also thank those parish leaders who had the unique vision for a place such as this, and the townspeople of West Cornwall.

Closing the Trinity Conference Center does not end the relationships that were formed there, nor the ideas formed among the people of good faith and conscience who gathered there. The center helped galvanize groups and build bridges between people. I am saddened at its close, but glad for the good it did. I know I share these bittersweet feelings with many today.
Faithfully,

The Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper

Comments

  1. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas says:

    What a sad though no doubt necessary decision. For many of us the conference center has been a grace-filled place for learning, prayer, and friendship. I hope that the land will be protected in perpetuity as conservation land, so that many people in the years ahead (and many non-human critters, too) can continue to enjoy God’s creation.

  2. Judy Jones+ says:

    Having been through this in other dioceses, I know what a difficult decision it was.
    CLP was wonderful and I have such happy memories of Trinity Conference Center.
    Prayers are w/you in your discernment process.

  3. thomas nieman says:

    Sad indeed. My wife Audrey Walker and her sister, Bernice Walker, were brought up in the village as little girls and their life was St. Luke’s and their summers were spent at West Cornwall. That was in the early 1940s.

  4. Monika Fischer says:

    Sounds like [poor] management. Like a CEO whose strategy against corporate bankruptcy is to close down the stores and put everyone out of work. With 10 billion plus in Manhattan real estate holdings Trinitu Wall Street could have floated the conference center for years, or at least keep everyone employed until a more cogent strategy was worked out. I will keep the employees in my prayers. Northwest Connecticut-like the rest of the US- isn’t exactly a boom town..

  5. Dana Campbell says:

    I hope that beautiful property will not just be sold to some developer for high end dwellings and subsequent environmental destruction. One of the things I always enjoyed about going to Trinity was the abundant wild life on the property and the undeveloped and undisturbed nature there. Habitat destruction here could take on double meaning. Loss of our wonderful retreat location for people AND more loss of habitat for our struggling wildlife population.

  6. Deborah Danner says:

    Dr. Cooper and Vestrymen
    It saddens me greatly that our Connecticut facility is closing…I imagine for fiscal reasons. I write this only to say that the space and its surroundings were a GREAT inspiration to me spiritually. Each of the two times that I visited I returned to NYC feeling renewed and refreshed and ready to rejoin the world and whatever was awaiting me with great vigor…Maybe someday it will reopen and nurture us once more…From my very first visit, I desired to see it in all its glory in each season but was unable to…that being said, I bid the facility a heartfelt “adieu”….(For now)

  7. John valentine says:

    I was a camper, then counselor, then program director at Trinity Camp in the 1960s before it became a conference center. Our campers were mostly low income kids from Harlem. To be able to share the wonders and beauty of that area with boys, many of whom had never been outside New York, was the most memorable experience of my youth and young adulthood. I have visited the property three or four times in the intervening years (I live in Sacramento now) and always felt the property had been better suited as a camp for young folks. I always looked at the church’s decision to close the summer camp and convert it to a conference center as misguided. We did so much good for young folks, although the church probably made more $$ with the conference center than they did by using it as a camp for Harlem kids. My last year there was as the head of Pioneer Village, giving 16 year olds an experience in wilderness survival skills. I know we changed lives in a positive way. God bless all who passed through that magic place; it will always hold a tender and special place in my heart.

    John Valentine
    Trinity Camp 1961 – 1969

  8. Paul Chapman says:

    I trod a similar path to John above and a little piece of me dies with this news. I was fortunate enough to be there during the 1980’s and 1990’s and Father Bob, the amazing children and staff made an incredible difference, back out to NY and around the world. It is so sad, for children learning how to live out “on the trail” and with each other, a $ could never find a more useful home.

    • John valentine says:

      Paul, thank you! I’m sure it was a business decision on the part of the Diocese, but I’d love to talk with you, if only to talk about what was and what might be! Please feel free to get in touch. I’m at valentj4@sbcglobal.net, or 916 802 1785. Let’s get together at West Cornwall some time and share fond memories!

  9. Priscilla Loomis says:

    I was heartbroken to hear that Trinity closed this, and upset now that I hear it may be sold to Heinz to build a factory! This property and original camp was owned by my great Uncle Ed, who was the priest in charge of St. Lukes Chapel, and then he sold it to Trinity. My parents met at camp when they were both counselors during the summer.
    I am saddened to know that this piece of my family history will be ruined.

  10. John valentine says:

    Hopefully, Priscilla, this is an unfounded rumor. West Corwall seems an unlikely setting for a Heinz factory, and Connecticut is not exactly a business-friendly state. I Googled and found no references to this. Your great-uncle’s generous donation hopefully will not have been in vain. Please continue posting as you learn more.

  11. Manny Pizarro says:

    I went to camp there in the 70’s. Junior and senior village,the pow wow sheds, watching movies in the barn on saturday nights,swinging from the rafters in the cabins,going to chapel and gathering crab apples for late night battles against other cabins,capturing campers from apposing villages(junior vs. senior) throwing them in the shower then rolling them in the sand of the pow wow shed. ghost stories by the fire!! Meals at Hobart(the dining hall) cookouts in the woods behind the baseball field.running down that crazy steep hill to the banks of the Housatonic. Messing with the counsellors when they tried to relax at white pines(their hang out. Being in awe of the pioneer villagers. They were like supermen. They didn’t even have cabins they slept in lean too’s .and the pine woods up the hill to the cabins no grass grew on the ground just a carpet of pine needles, Who can forget the covered bridge,’Dean’s ravine and a trip to Kent falls?! Man how I miss bug juice,tabletop hocky,Horace the cook, and larger then life counsellors like.. Rodney Alexander,Rob Davis,Carlton and Rene Mcdougal. Father Worthy!!! Do you remember father Worthy!!! It was the best just the best. Because of my camp experience at trinity I got involved with the ABC program and went to high school and collage in NewHampshire. I am an ordained minister with the “Church of God” I pastor in Mystic CT. I never would have known there was any other world but New york City if not for trinity parish boy’s camp.And oh yes….. swinging from the rafters in the cabin!!!! It doesn’t take much remembering to feel like a kid again. Peace.

  12. Larry Buxton says:

    I awakened this morning having dreamt of the Trinity Camp (!) and decided to look it up. I was not surprised to read this news, but it was unexpected. My experiences there were similar to Manny’s (above). I was the pool and waterfront director in the summers of 1973 & 1974. First year was with Father Worthy, and counselors like Bernt Lukkason & Michel Shimali from Lebanon. Second year was with Bob and Diane Griffiths, and wonderful folks like Tina Poole, Jane Booth, and ‘Cinto’ Kouassi from Cote d’Ivoire. I remember the LaPlacas very fondly, too. Many wonderful memories that surely fed my call into the ministry. I am an ordained UMC pastor in Northern Virginia. Would love to hear from any mutual friends.

  13. John Valentine says:

    Forty five years ago today, Apollo 11 astronauts walked on the moon. At Trinity Camp our maintenance manager, Cliff Tenbroeck, hooked up a television brought in the pow wow shed in the senior village so our campers could watch the historic event. It was amazing to be in this remote Connecticut setting and witness history. A moment I’ll never forget!

  14. Amanda Wrigley says:

    Hey everyone,
    Today I remembered Father Bob as I looked through all your memories, I was eighteen when I first came to trinity and then spent three months after travelling around ,
    America and visiting all my new friends which I’d met at the camp.
    Micheal Jackson was in the charts and we were singing hymns in the wooden chapel on Sundays. I met some great American friends of all colours and backgrounds and children of all manor of families and interests…….the place was a wonder to me at eighteen years and so were the people I met.:-)

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