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Christ Church

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1767–1773, James Wren. Additions and restorations, including 1891, Glenn Brown, and c. 1946–1955, Milton L. Grigg. 137 N. Columbus St. (southeast corner of Cameron and Columbus sts.)
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)
  • Christ Church (Virginia Division of Historic Resources)
  • Christ Church (Virginia Department of Historic Resources)
  • Christ Church (Richard W. Longstreth)
  • Christ Church (Richard W. Longstreth)

One of Virginia's best-known churches, Christ Church is still surrounded by an old churchyard. The original building is a two-story brick box very much in the London mode and similar to Wren's design at nearby Pohick. The stone trim is from the Aquia Creek quarry. James Parsons began construction, and John Carlyle took over from him and completed the church. It was accepted by the vestry as “finished in workmanlike order” on February 27, 1773. The awkward tower and steeple date from 1785–1799 but were apparently altered c. 1818. The interior gallery was added sometime between 1785 and 1818. By the 1870s the ecclesiology movement, which called for a return to medieval forms in Anglican church design and worship, had reached Virginia, and the interior received a Gothic treatment. But by 1891, Glenn Brown, an Alexandria native, had passed out of his Richardsonian period (in addition to EDAW, see 219 and 228 North Columbus Street, two Queen Anne houses by Brown from c. 1887) and, under the influence of Charles F. McKim, discovered the “colonial.” Brown “restored” the interior, painting it white, and designed the wineglass pulpit and other modifications. Milton L. Grigg further restored the church after World War II and in 1948 designed the parish hall, which was erected in 1950. Hence, the church as we see it is a combination of many different periods and a textbook of attitudes toward church design. The exterior, especially the tower, is impressive, and the interior is a light-filled box.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


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Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Christ Church", [Alexandria, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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