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Saint Peter's Church

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1889, James L. O'Connor. 313 2nd St. SE
  • Saint Peter's Church (Franz Jantzen)

Saint Peter's was the second Catholic parish established in the city. James Hoban was a member of the building committee (and probably the architect) of the first Saint Peter's church erected on the same site in 1820. The second church, a simple brick hall church with a central tower, reputedly designed by Mr. Lowe, was built in 1867. The cornerstone for the present Romanesque Revival structure was laid in October 1889, with the church dedicated in November of the following year. Owen Donnelly was the builder. The adjoining rectory in the same style was built in 1902. The massive church walls and tower are rock-faced Baltimore County marble throughout, with small rectangular blocks of many sizes laid in irregular courses giving its surfaces a faceted and fortified appearance. The asymmetrical facade composition masks a regular basilica form, the interiors of which were rebuilt in 1940–1941 after being completely gutted by fire. Richardsonian ornament around the three doors, the wheel window in the center, and the top of the lofty tower lack the vigor of most Washington structures in the same style. Pedimental sculptures at the entrances depict Saint Peter meeting Christ above the south portal, Christ establishing the church with Saint Peter as the first pope in the center, and Saint Peter preaching on the north.

Writing Credits

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee


What's Nearby


Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "Saint Peter's Church", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 148-148.

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