The church was built in 1816 by Benjamin Latrobe, the noted architect who worked on the Capitol and the White House, as well as the Decatur House. The original Classical style church was built in the form of a Greek Cross, where each arm was equal in length. Latrobe conceived of his churches as meeting houses, with open preaching space unencumbered by piers and columns. As a result, he insisted on simplicity in architecture and a pulpit centrally located so that all might see. St. John's size soon proved inadequate for the growing congregation. In 1820, workmen extended the west transept arm and fronted it with a Roman Doric portico, which resulted in a Latin Cross form.
Having seen more than its share of national occasions as well as the roster of those who have worshiped in this church, its significance goes without saying. However, there are many notable treasures in the church such as the twenty-seven handsome memorial windows adorning the building. An 18th-century prayer book placed in the President's pew has been autographed by many of the Presidents. A silver chalice and a solid gold communion chalice, encrusted with jewels, are also among its treasures. St. John's is still a living parish in the heart of Washington, DC With its bright yellow stuccoed walls, and golden cupola and dome, St. John's is a lively ornament to Lafayette Square. The church stands as one of the few remaining original buildings left near Lafayette Park today.
St. John's Church is located at 16th and H Sts., NW at Lafayette Square in Washington, DC Every Sunday after the 11:00 am service, there is a guided tour of St. John's. The church is available for public visitation from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm everyday. Metro stop: McPherson Square