The first church building at Washington Circle
In 1868, Washington Circle saw its first completed church: St. Paul’s.
The small building at 917 23rd Street had room for four hundred, and as her priests and parishioners invited all to its Christmas ‘Midnight Mass’ in 1870, they hoped to fill the church for what was, perhaps, the first of the Anglican Midnight Masses in America.
Vestments have been donned and the Eucharist celebrated daily since at least 1900, and the Blessed Sacrament set apart and reserved continuously since 1912.
On September 11, 1944, St. Paul’s received official notice from the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Works Agency, declaring the church property would be seized to make way for a hospital for George Washington University. Though initially troubled at the thought of such an action scattering those who called St. Paul’s a spiritual home, the parish united to rebuild St. Paul’s in its current location at 2430 K Street, designed by architect Philip H. Frohman. In June of 1948, the congregation moved into its new home; its interior largely unfinished, windows still not properly in place, but they worked quickly to put it to right. By July 18th of that year, the new building was ready for dedication, and the carpenters, masons, and plumbers that had worked so well and so quickly were invited to see the results of their labor blessed.
St. Paul’s undertook and completed a significant construction initiative in 2009, which provided major accessible improvements to parish facilities, including a welcoming new main entrance and atrium gathering space, new music facilities, and the acquisition of a neighboring row house. This house was named Carthwithen House, and is now the home of Acton Academy, a Montessori-based school.
Though St. Paul’s has always been a ‘neighborhood’ parish, it continues to draw newcomers from distances well beyond the parish bounds and the District of Columbia.