Archive for the ‘Churches’ category

Plans Submitted for Residential Conversion of Pittman’s Morton Street Church Building

July 8, 2015
The Trinity AME Zion Church in 1906, shortly after completion.

The Trinity AME Zion Church in 1906, shortly after completion.

Opal DC dba Morton Street Mews LLC recently filed their paperwork with the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) to convert architect William Sidney Pittman’s 1905 church at 777 Morton Street into housing as part of their Morton Street Mews project.

According to the application, the nature of the relief sought by the application is to allow an addition onto the church structure at the rear that would exceed the height limit in Section 330.7 of the Zoning Code.

The developer proposes to preserve and convert the existing structure into an apartment house. The entire original 1905 structure will be preserved and enhanced. The formstone that now covers the church building will be removed, and the south, east, and west elevations will be restored with brick to closely resemble their original appearance. All original architectural details on the front (south)  facade, such as the peaked roof and flanking turrets, will be retained. Additionally the gables on the west and east elevations of the original church will be retained and restored.

This BZA case is currently schedule to go before the Board sometime in September. A better idea of what is in store for the church can be seen in the drawings below.

Morton Street Mews church plans 2(Morton Street elevation.)

Morton Street Mews church plans 1(West elevation, facing Sherman Avenue.)

Morton Street Mews church plans 3(East elevation, facing the alley.)

Late 19th Century Stereoview Offers Rare View of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at Rock Creek Cemetery

October 21, 2014

Here’s another great 19th century photograph I was able to get of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (aka the Rock Creek Church). This photo likely dates to the 1870s or 1880s and is a good companion to the snapshot I posted on September 4, 2014, which dates to around 1899. But whereas that photo shows the church’s south elevation, this image shows the north elevation, or rear of the building.

As I noted in the earlier post, the church largely burned in 1921 and was rebuilt. While the new structure was able to keep and incorporate three of the original walls, the church that visitors are familiar with today is markedly different than the one that was familiar to visitors a century ago.

Rock Creek Church

Morton St. Mews Design Evolves in Interesting Way

September 12, 2014

I haven’t posted about OPaL’s Morton St. Mews project in a while. Overall, I like the direction it is going. Readers may recall that when news of this development was shared in February 2014, the vision included reconfiguring the modest church structure into 10 two-level condos. A drawing from that time showing how this would look is included below.

Morton Street Brownstones & Church

While the church structure — located at 777 Morton Street — is unassuming, it was later learned that it was designed by African-American architect William Sidney Pittman in 1905 and was his first Washington commission as a professional architect. OPaL is also aware of this significant architectural legacy and has revised their plans accordingly.


The revised renderings (above and below) show a more sensitive and interesting treatment of the notable structure. You can compare the design in the revised drawing with how the church originally looked here.

OPAL1402 Morton Elevation

Historic Photos of the 1921 Groundbreaking for Columbia Heights National Baptist Memorial Church

April 23, 2014
The National Baptist Memorial Church at 16th Street and Columbia Road.

The National Baptist Memorial Church at 16th Street and Columbia Road.

Recently I found three photos showing the groundbreaking ceremonies for the National Baptist Memorial Church located at Columbia Road and 16th Street, NW. I’ve often admired the building and am pleased that it is not only a landmark structure but also within the recently designated Meridian Hill Historic District.

Construction of the church began in 1921 with a groundbreaking ceremony on April 23rd (93 years ago today). The ceremony was attended by several hundred persons with the honor of turning the first spadeful of earth given to President Harding.

“The event was marked by a ceremony that was solemn, impressive, and brief” according to The Sunday Star.

SCAN0058(Looking south with Columbia Road in the background. Photo from author’s collection.)

President Harding made no speech at the event, but in speaking to the officials of the ceremonies, The Washington Post reported that Harding said “We can not have too many monuments to religious liberty and we can not have too much religion in this land.”

Harding used a brand new spade, tied with red, white and blue ribbons in turning out a neat square of ground. With accuracy and precision he marked the four corners of the square with the spade, dug it out with a single stroke and with another placed it in the toy express wagon of 8-year-old Gove Griffith Johnson, jr. the son of Rev. Gove Griffith Johnson, pastor of the Immanuel Baptist Church which was incorporated into the new church upon completion. The boy then presented the President with a bouquet of flowers from the members of the church. President Harding, after greeting the officials, returned to the White House.

Below are two more images of the ceremonies from the Library of Congress collection.

Harding Groundbreaking 1

Harding Groundbreaking 2


Work Continues on Fisherman of Men Church

January 16, 2014

In reviewing applications for building permits this week, I noticed that the Fisherman of Men Church (below) has applied to install a canopy with the dimensions of 23.5′ by 3′  and 20′ by 5′.

Fisherman of Men Church

I presume this will be above their Georgia Avenue entrance and look similar to the rendering below:

This postcard provides an idea of what the updated Fisherman of Men church could look like

This postcard provides an idea of what the updated Fisherman of Men church could look like

Grace Meridian Hill Church Celebrating New Home with Jazz and Ice Cream Community Open House This Friday!

September 5, 2013
Click for printable version of the open house flyer.

Click for printable version of the open house flyer.

If you like Jazz, ice cream sundaes, and would like to help Grace Meridian Hill church celebrate their new home in the Mt. Rona Church building (13th and Monroe streets, NW) … you’ll want to consider attending their open house tomorrow night.

Grace Meridian Hill is a church that’s been meeting in the Dance Institute of Washington for the last 3 years. This Sunday they’re officially moving their meeting location to the historic Mt. Rona Baptist Church at 13th and Monroe streets. They’re pretty excited about the move, and about the chance to meet in such a historic neighborhood building.

On Friday evening, September 6th, they’re having an Open House and Jazz night featuring Attila Molnar (and friends) . It’s from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.  at the Mt. Rona Baptist Church. There will be Jazz, Pop, and maybe a little Funk music, and an ice cream sundae bar. They’re looking forward to a fun night and getting to meet their new community neighbors.

If you’re planning on going, print out the coupon below. It will grant you one free ice cream sundae.

Ice cream sundae coupon

Recent Improvements at the Fisherman of Men Church

August 2, 2013
The church is currently installing tree-like decorative features in its arched areas.

The church is currently installing tree-like decorative features in its arched areas.

If you haven’t walked past the Fisherman of Men Church (at 3641 Georgia) lately, you probably haven’t noticed their latest improvements. Currently, they are in the process of painting their arched entryways purple and installing what appear to be a tree-inspired decorative feature in the archways.

Readers may recall that the church is located in the former York Theater building, and that a recent historic landmark nomination of the building failed largely due to the Fisherman of Men’s opposition to the nomination despite a favorable HPO staff report recommending the nomination be approved.

I’d be curious to see what residents think about these improvements. Do these aesthetic changes to the York building enhance the Georgia Avenue streetscape?

Installation of new decorative features at the Fisherman of Men church, 3641 Georgia.

Installation of new decorative features at the Fisherman of Men church, 3641 Georgia.

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