Calvin T. S. Brent (1854–1899), Washington's earliest-known African American architect, was first listed as an architect in Boyd's Directory of the District of Columbia in 1875. Church tradition attributes Saint Luke's design to him. The only building we can be certain that he designed is a two-story brick row house at 1704 V Street NW. Brent probably collaborated with Saint Luke's rector, Alexander Crummell, an African American clergyman who had spent six years in England at mid-century and would undoubtedly have been influenced by the Ecclesiological movement. The purpose of Ecclesiology was to reform Gothic Revival church design in keeping with liturgical practices rather than with picturesque compositions. In 1876 in a national appeal for $20,000 to build the church, Crummell stressed the national character of Saint Luke's, noting that Washington's black population of 43,000 came from every state in the union. The simple hall church—60 feet wide by 100 feet deep—is built of randomly laid Potomac blue stone. Four large pointed-arch openings dominate the facade: a double-lancet door divided by a limestone trumeau and topped by a stone tympanum with a carved roundel surmounted by a five-part window of equal width with tracery based on English curvilinear decorated models and large stained-glass windows (by “Mr. Gernhardt”) that fill the fields of each of the aisle walls. Two rows of interior iron columns support the roof; the steel tie rods were installed in the 1940s. The original wood wainscoting has been replaced; interior walls are plastered and painted.
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Saint Luke's Episcopal Church
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