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Washington Tabernacle Baptist Church
3200 Washington Avenue at Compton
Architect: John Maurice
Rebuilt 1948

Originally the Washington and Compton Avenue Presbyterian Church, this venerable limestone building passed to the current congregation in 1926 and has served generations of African-American leaders in the city. A 1945 fire nearly destroyed it, but the congregation rallied and rebuilt, rededicating the building in 1948. In 1963, Martin Luther King held a civil rights rally at the church. A healthy crowd was in attendence when I visited in May 2011.

Inside, the church's mixed heritage is obvious: elaborately detailed 19th Century doors, newel posts and stained glass designs survive in the lobby, while the rebuilt sanctuary contains broader, simpler designs that would have been more practical for the 1940s reconstruction. The grand space is outlined with relatively simple moldings and contains little in the way of extraneous decoration.

Washington Tabernacle is among the biggest and most significant of many rough-faced ashlar-cut gray limestone churches that dot the Midtown area. Most are Gothic in style, and date from between 1870 and 1890. See also:

  • Washington Metropolitan
  • Jamison Memorial CME
  • First Baptist Church
  • The Rock Church - St. Alphonsus Liguori
  • St. Francis Xavier College Church
  • Grandell Theater - a Romanesque church; the only exception to the Gothic rule
  • National Memorial Church of God in Christ
  • Off-site links:

  • Washington Tabernacle at the City Landmarks listing.
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