Washington National Cathedral - History and Facts | History Hit

Washington National Cathedral

Washington, District of Columbia, United States

Washington National Cathedral is a site where national events, such as state funerals and Presidential inaugurations, are marked.

Antara Bate

21 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral, officially known as the “Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul,” is the “church for national purposes” called for by President George Washington on January 24, 1791; initially advocated by intention of William W. Corcoran in 1871; and chartered by Congress during the administration of President Benjamin Harrison in 1893.

Washington National Cathedral history

The first stone of Washington National Cathedral was laid on September 29, 1907, in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt.

A major seat of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. over the years, located on the highest hill in the District of Columbia, Washington National Cathedral has formed a focal point in the city as well as a place to celebrate and mourn events of national and international significance.

From state funerals and presidential inaugurations, to national holidays and services such as those for the September 11 terrorist attacks, events of all kinds have been marked at Washington National Cathedral. It was also the site of the final Sunday sermon of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968.

Washington National Cathedral today

The Cathedral’s attractions include its stained glass windows, which depict an array of themes and events ranging from nature to space exploration and the American Civil War. Memorials appear throughout the Cathedral, including the War Memorial Chapel, as do exhibits and numerous works of art. The tomb of President Woodrow Wilson, the only president to be buried in the District of Columbia, is also located there.

Visitors can explore the history of Washington National Cathedral through self-guided tours, audio tours, or guided tours following various themes. The Cathedral’s website provides live and archived webcasts of its services, concerts, and other special events.

Getting to Washington National Cathedral

The Cathedral is located at the corner of Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues in northwest Washington, D.C., on a piece of land known as Mount St. Alban.

To drive from Washington,  take Massachusetts Avenue north to Wisconsin Avenue. Turn right onto Wisconsin Avenue and the Cathedral will be on the right. The cathedral has an underground car park.

The nearest bus stop is Woodley Road.