Trinity Episcopal Cathedral was built over the course of 25 years bracketing the Great Depression and World War II. The congregation’s history in Reno dates to 1870. The first services were held in a schoolhouse at Sierra and Second streets, but by 1873, the growing congregation had raised enough money to buy the lot on which the school stood, and in December 1875, services were held in the new church building.
By the mid-1920s, Reno was experiencing somewhat of a church building boom and members of Trinity Episcopal had their eyes on a lot on the corner of Island and Rainbow drives on the south side of the Truckee River. Knowing that the process of raising money to acquire the land and build a new church would be a long one, their first step was to move the existing church—lock, stock, and barrel—to a spot near the university so they could sell the land at Second and Sierra. The old church, renamed St. Stephens Chapel, continued to serve the congregation while plans for the new building were underway. St. Stephen’s Chapel was ultimately demolished with the construction of the interstate highway through Reno.
Frederic DeLongchamps, Reno’s foremost architect, drew several designs for the new church, but the initial construction phase called only for the construction of the crypt, the lower level of the church, which was completed in 1929. From 1929 until the end of World War II, the crypt served all church functions for the congregation. In 1944, the congregation began looking to complete construction of the church. Although there were existing plans drawn by DeLongchamps in the 1920s, the congregation brought in the eminent church architect John N. Tilton. Tilton had been a partner in the Chicago architectural firm of Armstrong, Furst, and Tilton, and was presently teaching architecture at Cornell University. Tilton’s Gothic edifice was built atop DeLongchamps' crypt. The formal dedication was held in 1949.
The last piece of Trinity Episcopal’s building plan was the Parish House, which sits on the southern edge of the property. The Parish House, designed by architect Edward Parsons, was built in 1958 of precast tilt-up concrete construction. The panels were welded together using a method that was an innovation in northern Nevada. Other notable additions to the church were a 32-bell carillon in 1972 and a 37-rank Casavant pipe organ dedicated in 1999. Trinity Episcopal offers free organ concerts and recitals featuring local and regional organists.