Early Republic Spots to Visit on Capitol Hill

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Christ Church Washington Parish (620 G St SE)

Are you a history enthusiast and/or Regency Society of Virginia member who is coming into D.C. for my Regency Society talk on August 22nd?

First of all, thanks!

Secondly, there are some places you may want to visit while you are here.

credit: http://www.williammaloney.com/aviation/USNavyMuseum/index.htm

1. The National Museum of the US Navy has an 1812 exhibit up and is interesting and under the radar.  It’s open 10 to 5 on weekends, has parking, and is only about 6 blocks from Christ Church. The Washington Navy Yard is historic itself (that’s where the museum is located), but visitors do have to present ID at the 6th St./M St gate if they don’t have a military ID. Vehicles may be brought in and there is a parking lot right across the street from the museum.

2. This free walking tour of the Eastern Market/Barracks Row/Navy Yard neighborhood is also a fun one and spans a few centuries of history. You can DIY and stop anywhere that looks interesting along the way.

congressional cemetery

3. Congressional Cemetery is about a mile east near the river. This link has a variety of downloadable guides on over a dozen themes, including Building the Federal City, the War of 1812, and the Burning of Washington DC!

4. One more thing–The Library of Congress is less than a mile away and has an exhibit on reassembling Jefferson’s original library.

You’ll certainly enjoy the location of the talk as well: Christ Church Washington Parish. The National Park Service website on the early days of Washington D.C. tells the history of this building:

Christ Church, the city’s first Episcopal parish, is a Gothic style church extraordinarily rich in both cultural heritage and visual beauty. Several early Presidents worshiped here such as James Madison and James Monroe, as did the U. S. Marines who lived at the nearby Marine Barracks. Thomas Jefferson regularly attended services at the old tobacco warehouse church where services were held until 1807, when the present site near the Navy Yard was donated by William Prout. Although there is some debate, Benjamin Latrobe, one of 19th-century America’s greatest architects, is generally attributed with the design of the church. Latrobe is also well known for his contribution to the construction of the Capitol. One of Christ Church’s most prominent recent members was John Philip Sousa, the celebrated bandmaster and march composer. He was married here, and is now buried in the Church’s cemetery, Congressional Cemetery, which is the unofficial resting place for members of Congress.

The rental of pews provided the parish’s chief source of income. Three free pews were regularly reserved: one for the President of the United States; one for the donor of the land, Mr. Prout; and one for the rector’s family. When the first service was held on August 9, 1807, the church was known only as the “New Church in the Navy Yard.” The vestry formally adopted the name “Christ Church” on August 20, 1807. The church’s first rectory was built in 1824. The bell tower, added in 1849, was used as an observation post during the Civil War. The present Parish Hall was built in 1874. In 1924, the first rectory was razed and the present one was built on the same site. The Crucifixion window at the end of the chancel, a memorial to mothers, dates from 1927. In 1966, a two-story addition to the Parish Hall was constructed and dedicated to the memory of Rev. Edward Gabler, the priest and rector from 1928 to 1944. This architectural treasure is still dedicated to public worship.

Thinking about sticking around for dinner? The food scene here on the Hill is fabulous, with Bon Appetit’s Best 2014 New Restaurant (Rose’s Luxury), the historic Eastern Market grocery and food extravaganza (with its weekend flea market), and loads of specialty eateries at all price points provide loads of options for lunch or dinner.

Enjoy!