What’s In the President’s Neighborhood?

Quick Look at St John’s Episcopal Church

St John’s Episcopal Church is a lovely church with yellow stuccoed walls located at 16th and H Streets, across from the Lafayette Square in the northwest quadrant of Washington, DC. The cornerstone was laid on September 14, 1815, 15 years after President John Adams (second president of the United States) and his wife Abigail Adams, moved into the newly constructed White House. 

The church was built by Benjamin Latrobe (architect who worked on the Capitol, the White House and nearby Decatur House.) in the form of a Greek cross, with each arm of the cross being of equal length. Latrobe conceived of his churches as meeting houses, with open space for preaching that was unencumbered by piers and columns. 

St John’s is often referred to as “the Church of the Presidents” because beginning with President James Madison (fourth President of the United States), until the present, every person who has held the office of President of the United States has attended a service at St. John’s. Pew 54 is the President’s Pew and is reserved for the use of the President and First Family when they attend the church.

Interesting Features of St John’s Church:

•    The bell in the steeple is a biggie! It weighs nearly 1,000 pounds and was installed in 1822. Besides being used by St John’s, it was used as an alarm bell for the surrounding neighborhood. The bell was cast by Paul Revere’s son, Joseph, at his Boston foundry. 

•    St. John’s Church has 25 stained glass windows, designed and produced by the noted Lorin Stained Glass Windows firm of Chartres, France. Each window depicts a scene from the life of Jesus or a scene from the Gospel of St. John. The central stained glass window over the altar is a rendition of the Last Supper.
•    An 18th-century prayer book that resides in the President's pew has been autographed by many of the Presidents.

•    Throughout the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln frequently attended evening prayer at St John’s, sitting in an inconspicuous rear pew.

•    In 1902, the formal state funeral of British ambassador Lord Pauncefote took place in St. John's Church.

1525 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Metro stop: McPherson Square

The church is available for public visitation from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm everyday.