St. John’s Church
Also known as “the Church of the Presidents,” St. John’s Episcopal Church has hosted every US head of state for services since President James Madison. Separated from the White House by Lafayette Square, the landmark is often considered the White House’s chapel and is still a functioning church today. In addition to its neoclassical looks—highlighted by its pale-lemon hue, many ornate stained-glass windows, and elegant cupola—the landmark also boasts an array of treasures and special objects, including a prayer book signed by multiple presidents and a communion chalice studded with precious gems.
St. John’s Episcopal Church features on history- and faith-themed tours of the nation’s capital. Given its proximity to the White House and other major DC destinations, the landmark is also easy to visit independently.
Things to know before you go
- The church is a popular stop among architecture enthusiasts, and architect Benjamin Latrobe also helped design the US Capitol and the White House.
- Remember to look up the bell in St. John’s steeple, which weighs almost 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms), was cast by Paul Revere’s son, Joseph.
- Head next door to the Parish House, anotherNational Historic Landmark.
- Wheelchair users can access the landmark via a ramp at the church’s front doors.
How to get there
St. John’s Episcopal Church is located across from the White House, at 16th and H Streets, NW. To get there using public transportation, take the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines to McPherson Sq, or the Red line to Farragut North. The church can also be reached by numerous local bus lines, by bike, or on foot.
When to get there
St. John’s Episcopal Church is open to visitors daily, for several hours every afternoon. Public guided tours are also held on Sundays following the late-morning service. Even if the church’s interior is closed, the landmark’s distinct architectural style makes it a popular daytime stop and photo subject for DC sightseers.
Other Important Churches in Washington DC
While St. John’s Episcopal Church has its presidential clout, DC is also home to a host of other major religious landmarks. If you wish to plan a history- or faith-centric visit of the city, continue your excursions to the Washington National Cathedral (a neo-Gothic masterpiece celebrated for its gargoyles and stone carvings); the Church of the Epiphany (a 19th-century landmark with Civil War-era history); and St. Matthew's Cathedral (known for its lavish, Byzantine interiors).
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