Home > History > Designated Districts and Sites > Hillcrest / National Presbyterian Church Historic District > National Presbyterian Church

National Presbyterian Church Washington, D. C.

  • Year Built: 1966-1969
  • Architect: Harold E. Wagoner; Landscape Architects Boris V. Timchenko
  • Built By: Chas. H. Tompkins Co.

The Presbyterian denomination in Washington, DC dates back to the late 18th century when it installed its first ordained minister to serve a congregation. The First Presbyterian Church stood near Judiciary Square for a century. When plans to create a municipal center forced the church to move, it merged with the long established Church of the Covenant.

In 1947, a gathering of notables including President Truman attended a service marking the official establishment of National Presbyterian Church. Though an early fund-raising effort for a new church to be located in Woodley Park failed, a second effort in the 1960s resulted in the purchase of the land in Tenleytown and in 1967 the cornerstone for the new church building was laid by President Eisenhower.

The Church was built in a Modernist Neo-Gothic style with smooth limestone clad walls and contains fifty-three faceted glass windows designed for the building by Willet Studios in Philadelphia as well as eighteen stained glass windows by Tiffany Glass and Booth Glass originally fabricated for the Church of the Covenant.

The bell tower at the front of the church is 173 feet tall and serves as a visual landmark. Inside the bell tower is a carillon which includes sixty-one Flemish bells and twenty-five English type bells. The bells can be played from organ consoles inside the church. The church’s sanctuary seats over 1250.

Though lacking the ornamental detail, the size and presence of National Presbyterian Church and its bell tower recall its Gothic cathedral antecedents.

(Photographs courtesy of the National Presbyterian Church and Anne Adams.)

(Listed in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites, 2019)

site by  carmoDynamics