Wednesday, February 20, 2008

St. John's Church, Lafayette Square

St. John's Episcopal Church and Parish House--The Church of the Presidents

This entry is the first in a series I'm starting on D.C. Confidential called "The Churches of 16th Street." From the foot of 16th Street at H Street all the way to the north where 16th Street ends at Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland, this street has more churches, synagogues, temples, and centers of religion than any other avenue or street in our Nation's Capital. (From 16th and H to 16th and Colorado alone there are nearly 40 places of worship and that's only 1/2 of the length of 16th Street!)

St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square (1525 H Street NW) is located on 16th and H Streets across from Lafayette Park and the White House. Founded in 1815, St. John's is known as "The Church of the Presidents" because of its proximity and ease of access to the White House. Throughout its history, every president since James Madison has attended a service at St. John's. Pew 54 is the Presidential Pew and when the church has occasion to host a president, that is where he sits.

The bell in the St. John's belfry was cast by Paul Revere's son, Joseph, in Boston in 1822. It is one of only two Revere bells in the city and the only one in continuous use to this day. The church was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe and is a national historic landmark.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 2/08

10 comments:

slim said...

How nice to see another "Church of Presidents" and a Boston connection as well ;) Have you heard the bell toll? We'll look forward to seeing all the Houses of Worship along 16th . . . the number is staggering.
Clueless & I are posting a Quincy House of Worship every Sunday . . . we didn't know we had so many. I'm so glad you stopped by and made this connection.

b.c. said...

awesomely historic church, looking forward to the series...

Fénix - Bostonscapes said...

So you made me google-map it... And it looks like there's something like 40 city blocks between H St and Colorado Ave. That's a place of worship per block. Ok, looks I won't be saying "only in New England" anymore. >8D

I was in your gorgeous city in the summer of 2000. I'd love to visit again.

D.C. Confidential said...

Slim: I was thinking I'd post a place of worship on Wednesdays and Saturdays, otherwise, I'll be post one building/sanctuary once a week for the next year! (And that's only the churches on 16th. There's a fajillion more churches on every other street in this city!)

Per the bell, I haven't heard it toll, but I may make a point of going down one Sunday just for that alone.

BC: The bummer on Monday was, the church was closed for the holiday, so I couldn't get any interior shots. I'd love a picture of Pew 54.

Fenix: Forty blocks between H and Colorado sounds about right (I still can't believe I walked all of them and still another 40+ to go!)

Come on down to D.C. anytime. We'll pull together a photo walk and take lots of pictures. I was in Boston in 2004 for one day on business, but totally loved it. My goal is to either take a job there or make a point of vacationing and photographing your lovely city.

Bobbie said...

D.C. this is going to be a really cool series and I can hardly wait to see your next post. This first one is very interesting that there are so many churches in such a small area, and also because Paul Revere's son cast the bell.

D.C. Confidential said...

Bobbie: I think it will be a fun series. I'm excited about learning little facts and figures about each of the churches.

The Artful Eye said...

Interesting factoid about 16th street. I'm looking forward to seeing more.

D.C. Confidential said...

AE: My "Churches of 16th Street" will either be really interesting or a total bomb! I'm just as interested to see how this turns out, too.

Lisa Sarsfield said...

Wow, that is a huge amount of churches! I can't wait to see the architectual delights you have to share with us through your very capable eyes...

D.C. Confidential said...

Lisa: That's part of what I love about 16th Street: the AMAZING quantity of churches. And the irony of it all. We have a saying over here: "In America, Sunday is the most segregated day of the week." As a pluralist society, we preach unity and brother/sisterhood, but on Sunday mornings you're not seeing that so much. (I also have a personal bias for churches, religion, spirituality, and sociology. My academic background is in religion and society and I'm fascinated by the need religion fills in the lives of individuals and the community...)