Posted tagged ‘Rock Creek Cemetery’

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

Photo of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church From 1899 Shows Church Before Fire

September 4, 2014

St. Paul's Episcopal Church ca. 1899I doubt many visitors to St. Pauls’ church in the Rock Creek Cemetery give much thought to its architecture or ponder upon its history beyond it being an attractive colonial style building. While its well known that the church dates to the 18th century and is the oldest church in the District of Columbia (the church’s Web site includes a good history that you can read here), its appearance today is noticeably different than that which visitors encountered a century ago. This change in appearance is the result of a devastating fire that all but destroyed the church on the morning of April 6, 1921.

According to the church’s Web site, a church has been on its present site since 1719, when a wooden church building was first begun. This was followed by a new brick church building begun in 1721 and completed in 1775.  The building was again largely rebuilt in 1810 and it is this building that can be viewed in the image above which dates to around 1899.

???????????????????????????????The original building was about forty by sixty feet, and was originally arranged with the chancel cut off by a rail at the east end. Three windows faced the east and at the far end two entrance doors were located to the west. On each long side, north and south, were five windows, and above these a second tier, as if a gallery were contemplated for growth.

In 1868 the vestry built at the center of the north wall a wide apsidal chancel, with three windows. Around this time all the two-storied windows of the old church were run together into high, round-arched windows and the west doors were abandoned in favor of an entrance at the center of the south side. Finally, in 1909, a memorial bell-tower was constructed on the south side.

A little after 3 a.m. on the morning of April 6, 1921,  a fire was discovered in the church and the alarm called in. Engine companies 24, 11, and 22 and truck company 6 responded, but upon their arrival the flames were so advanced that efforts to save the property were all but useless. Furthermore, the firemen’s ability to douse the fire was hampered by the fact that there was no fire plug in the immediate vicinity of the church. By the time a nearby plug had been located some distance away and water brought to fight the fire, the building had been aflame for a full hour.

Depending upon contemporary reports, the damage was estimated at between $75,000 and more than $100,000, although the loss in many ways could not be calculated. The fire had reduced the building to its four outer walls. Not only was the building severely damaged, but the interior was a complete loss — not to mention the loss of the valuable memorial windows, irreplaceable relics, and paintings.

The congregation immediately set to rebuilding the church. In rebuilding, most of the brickwork was found substantial enough, but the north wall had buckled decidedly in the center and was taken down. The architect in charge of the rebuilding was Delos H. Smith, with the result being the church building we know today.

IMG_7277(St. Paul’s today)

Dog Walking Banned from Rock Creek Cemetery

June 20, 2011

If you own a dog and like to go for long walks you probably already know this, but dog walking is no longer permitted at Rock Creek Cemetery. This change in policy went into effect at the start of June 2011.

Rev. Rosemari Sullivan, of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church/Rock Creek Cemetery, was at the June 14 ANC 4C meeting to officially inform the community of the new security policies they’ve recently implemented. Readers may recall that several bronze markers and small sculpture were stolen in March at the cemetery. To address this the grounds are being closed earlier and security has been increased. Rev. Sullivan is hopeful that thieves recently arrested in Maryland for thefts in cemeteries are also responsible for the ones here. But even so, she lamented that the bronzes stolen from Rock Creek Church Cemetery may never be recovered.

Regarding the change in policy toward dogs in the cemetery, Rev. Sullivan said that in the end it all boiled down to protecting the grounds and being respectful to families who’s loved ones are interred at Rock Creek. The first issue the church needed to address was the growing number of complaints from families who had come to pay their respects only to find dog feces on graves. The second problem was owners who off-leashed their pets on the grounds. Again, the church had been made aware that untethered dogs had intruded upon both those visiting grave sites and burial services.

To me, it would just seem to have been common sense that if one saw a funeral in progress you would do everything possible to be as unobtrusive as possible as a measure of respect. While I think it’s unfortunate that dog walking is no longer an option at Rock Creek Cemetery, I certainly understand their response to the circumstances and complaints.

Entrance to Rock Creek Cemetery, on Rock Creek Church Road


Theft at Rock Creek Cemetery‏

March 17, 2011

This is disturbing news that was shared on various listservs tonight:

Dear Neighbors,

It is a great sadness to share with you that our cemetery has been targeted for theft of bronze. At the end of last week an 11 ft bronze work of art and other pieces were removed. This took quite an effort since the installation required a crane and at least six men to get it in place. You can imagine how the family of the deceased feels.

We believe that we offer the community a beautiful, quiet spot for walking, running and playing with children. However, we need you to help us. The security mantra of “if you see something say something is a good one.” If you are enjoying our space and see persons defacing the property or acting in a suspicious way please notify our office (202) 726-2080.

The Police Department are doing their part. Please help us so we can continue to allow public use of this space.

(Rev.) Rosemari Sullivan

Detail of a bronze from the Heurich family resting place in Rock Creek Cemetery. This bronze was not stolen, but it does give a sense of the highly artistic nature of the monuments on the grounds

Free Area Walking Tours Scheduled for September 25-26, 2010

September 6, 2010

Lincoln Cottage (aka Anderson Cottage)

The semi-annual WalkingTown DC/BikingTown DC tours are currently being scheduled for the weekend of September 25-26 this fall. The tours are free but some may require reservations. The Web site and all the listings are not completely finished yet, but there is enough there to start making plans.

Tours that will be of particular interest to Park View residents include the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home, the Rock Creek Church Cemetery grounds, and a neighborhood tour of Park View.

The tour of the Soldiers’ Home Grounds is currently listed and requires a reservation. There is only one tour, which is scheduled for Saturday morning between 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. The link is up and registration for this tour is currently live and open.

There are several opportunities to tour of the grounds of the Rock Creek Parish Cemetery. If this is a tour you are interested in you’ll want to scan through the days and times to see which one best suits your schedule.

The walking tour of Park View is not yet listed, but will be found in the listings for Sunday morning when that page is posted. The Park View tour was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. the last time I saw the schedule. I should also disclose that I’ll be leading that tour.

Of course, Cultural Tourism DC will be offering tours throughout the city, so if these local suggestions don’t peak your interest, look at the other listings for something that does. It’s a great way to learn more about Washington, and its hard to argue with free.


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