Art & Architecture
To learn more about St. John’s historic stained glass windows, please read or download Richard Grimmett’s The Historic Stained Glass Windows of St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square (PDF), which includes a map and list of all the windows on the main floor and gallery.
Watercolor of St. John’s Church by Benjamin Henry Latrobe
Latrobe’s original watercolor of the church, now held by the Library of Congress. St. John’s was designed by noted architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe to serve Episcopalians in a growing residential community in the neighborhoods in the western end of Washington.
1816 Ground Plan
The cornerstone of St. John’s was set on September 14, 1815. St. John’s first service was held on October 27, 1816, and the church was consecrated on December 27, 1816.
St. John’s and the Dolley Madison House
Dolley Todd Madison was the wife of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States from 1809 to 1817.
The Revere Bell
Weighing nearly 1,000 pounds, St. John’s steeple bell was cast by Paul Revere’s son Joseph at his Boston foundry in August 1822. It was installed on November 30 of that year. President James Monroe authorized a $100 contribution of public funds toward its purchase, as it also served as an alarm bell for the neighborhoods and public buildings (including the White House) in the vicinity. St. John’s bell is one of two Revere bells in Washington, and the only such bell in continuous service since its installation.
“Ascent into Heaven” by Jay Hall Carpenter
The sculpture is located in St. John’s columbarium, on the north side of the church building.
The Last Supper Window (Annie E. Steele Memorial Window)
St. John’s Church features 25 historic stained glass windows, designed and produced by the noted Lorin Stained Glass Windows firm Chartres, France. They were commissioned in 1883 and installed over a period of two years. They depict scenes from the life of Jesus and from the Gospel of St. John, for whom the church is named.
The central stained glass window over the altar is a unique rendition of the Last Supper. The disciples are seen on both sides of a long table, with Jesus the central figure at the far end, and St. John leaning on his shoulder. All the Lorin windows throughout the main floor and gallery are outstanding examples of this unique style from the late 19th century.
The Garden of Gethsemane Window (King Sisters Memorial Window)
St. John’s Church features 25 historic stained glass windows, designed and produced by the noted Lorin Stained Glass Windows firm Chartres, France. They were commissioned in 1883 and installed over a period of two years. They depict scenes from the life of Jesus and from the Gospel of St. John, for whom the church is named. All the Lorin windows throughout the main floor and gallery are outstanding examples of this unique style from the late 19th century.
Montgomery Blair Memorial Window
The Calling of St. John and St. James (upper medallion); St. Peter asking Jesus about St. John’s mission (lower medallion); on AFL side of church opposite the President’s Window on H Street.
The Resurrection (Nell Arthur Memorial Window)
“…Ellen Herndon, who sang in St. John’s choir, met and fell in love with Chester Arthur at the church. The couple was married in New York City. Mrs. Arthur died in 1880 about the time Arthur was elected Vice-President. … [During his time as President,] Arthur presented a memorial window to the church which was placed in the south transept overlooking the White House.” Excerpt from “The Pew Where Lincoln Sat,” by the Washington Diocese, 1961.
For further reading, see whitehousehistory.org.