For over two centuries, St. John’s, Lafayette Square has stood in witness to the events that shaped our nation’s capital.
Established in 1815, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square was designed by noted architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe to serve Episcopalians in a growing residential community in Washington’s western end.
Latrobe, one of the architects of the U.S. Capitol building, fashioned the church in the form of a simple Greek cross. The cornerstone was set on September 14, 1815; St. John’s first service was held on October 27, 1816; and the church was consecrated on December 27 of that year. A portico and bell tower, containing a bell cast by Paul Revere’s son, were added by 1822.
Known as the “Church of the Presidents,” St. John’s has welcomed every president to worship in its sanctuary beginning with James Madison. Several have been regular communicants, earning St. John’s its status as a National Historic Landmark. In June 2020, St. John’s stood at the epicenter of a historic moment when spontaneous demonstrations against police brutality captured the attention of our nation and world. Throughout that time St. John’s was known to be a place that offered grace and the healing love of God, and today the church continues to strive for the dream of racial reconciliation, justice, and equity for all people.
While St. John’s is a truly historic landmark, it is open to all who seek community, learning, service, or simply a place to sit and bask in the presence of God here in the middle of our nation’s capital.