The Buildings and Grounds of the Episcopal Church of Saint Monica and Saint James

1883-1888: Construction of present church, opening in three phases

1886: Beginning of parish involvement in Capitol Hill community life. Mission House (rented) across 8th St. (first at 225, then at 239), to house Anglican nuns from convents to whom the parish had appealed for help. Four nuns soon opened the house to working girls for board and lodging; staffed a weekday parochial school (at first in the church nave); and conducted an Industrial School on Saturday mornings, teaching sewing to young women.

1892-1896: Construction of the Parish Hall and its extension

1898-1899: Construction of the Rectory

1931: Fire of unknown origin, destroying roof, renders church unusable for a year.

1935: Beginning of current gardens. The incoming rector, a graduate landscape architect as well as priest, plants trees throughout and designs gardens in rectory areas.

1946-1997: A former acolyte, now an adult parishioner, first assists the rector, then undertakes design of and responsibility for all gardens, continuing to develop and maintain them until his retirement circa 1997.

2007: Saint Monica Episcopal Church and Saint James Episcopal Church merged at the direction of the Bishop of Washington. The church building of Saint James became home for both parishes. The church building of Saint Monica's located at was sold in 2008.

2015: The church welcomes a new Rector, Father William Stafford-Whittaker.

2018: The Vestry and Rector sell the Rectory in order to make the church handicap accessible and to address deferred maintenance of the Church.  Architectural plans are drawn up for the parish hall, nave, servery, sacristy, and undercroft.

Historic Elements

Late 19th Century:  Baptismal Font; Brass Lectern; Tower Bell; Great Silver Chalice and Paten; Censer.

Three Crucifixes:  1) The Resurrected Christ, 8th Street Wall:  created and donated by Berthold Schmutzhart, local sculpter, teacher at Corcoran Gallery; 2) Alter Crucifix:  German, from Oberammergau (orginally outside); 3) Parish Hall Crucifix:  Berthold Schmutzhart (commissioned).

Historic Steinway Grand Piano:  Made in 1883/1884; donated in 1983 as a parish "100 Birthday" gift.  (Date based on the lack of the middle sostenuto pedal perfected by Steinway in 1876, which quickly became standard in their grands).

Stations of the Cross:  Originally poly-chrome.  Having deteriorated beyond restoration, they were painted white around 1959.

Stained Glass Windows:  Created and maintained by Washington Art Glass Studios. Jed Boertlein, son of the designer, recently completed the restoration of the windows in the Upper Parish Hall.

History compiled by Dr. Suzanne Legault and the Vestry

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