Christ Episcopal Church

Historical black and white image of the original Christ Episcopal Church in Georgetown, Washington, DC.
Historical image of the original Christ Episcopal Church in Georgetown, Washington, DC.

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Reference address: 3116 O St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Walking directions: From Wheatley Row, walk towards 31st St NW. Walk along 31st St NW towards Dumbarton St NW. Cross Dumbarton St NW and continue walking along 31st St NW until you get to the corner of O St NW and 31st. You'll see the brick building of the church.

This is Christ Episcopal Church. Christ Episcopal Church was the church of Georgetown's southern segment. The original church was destroyed by fire in the late 1880's and the one you see before you was built in 1889.

The church went through a rough time during the Civil War. The church made money to operate by subscripting (or renting) pews. Most of the church's members were southerners who left the area during the war. To try to make ends meet the church tried lowering subscription costs and renting out the rectory. Several times the church was turned into a hospital to treat wounded Union soldiers. Boards were placed over the pews to make stretchers, beds, and operating tables.

The rector of the church, Dr. William Norwood, was an ardent secessionist. His cat was one of the first causalities of the war. When hostilities broke out, he headed south for a visit. He left his cat in the rectory with enough food for ten days. He didn't return as expected and his cat starved to death. Although it was a sad story, it was so much better than most of the news at the time that the Evening Star published it to lighten the mood of the paper denominations.

Dr. Norwood abandoned his post when he was ordered by the Bishop of Maryland to pray for a Union victory and President Lincoln. Since the church needed a minister, one would be sent weekly to conduct services. Every week the ladies of the church protested the prayers for Lincoln and the armies by walking out of the church with a pompous air.

However, at war's end the community realized that President Lincoln was the best hope for reconciliation without much punishment for the south. They openly mourned when the president was assassinated. Dr. Grafton Taylor

"Resolved that in the death of our late President A. Lincoln, we have sustained an irreparable loss, and that our horror of the atrocious deed, which has brought affliction and sorrow upon the whole people is all that the heart can bear and more than the tongue can utter."

Christ Church remained draped in black crepe for 30 days. On the day Lincoln was buried in Springfield, Illinois, the bell of this church, devoted to the southern cause and attended by those who believed in the south's way of life, tolled for 2 hours in his honor.

Last updated: January 5, 2024

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