Memories of a Renwick in Washington, DC

The photograph below is especially beautiful because it depicts a stunning James Renwick, Jr. spired church and in the distance shows the US Capitol building under construction. Construction on the Capitol began in the 1793 when President Washington helped lay the cornerstone and it was completed by the year 1800. The signature 'wedding cake style' dome, however, was added many years later in the 1850s. Look closely at the photograph and you can see the Capitol's dome surrounded in construction scaffolding and topped with a crane-like armature.

US Capitol under construction and the Trinity Episcopal Church, Library of Congress

US Capitol under construction and the Trinity Episcopal Church, Library of Congress

The two buildings sit thoughtfully in the landscape. The James Renwick building was called the Trinity Episcopal Church and opened to the public in 1851. According to the Washington Post, when the Civil War broke out "the church was requisitioned for use as a hospital. A raised wooden floor was laid atop the pews and secured with nails. (The nail holes were forever visible.) Lincoln is said to have visited wounded soldiers."

The Trinity Episcopal Church had two large spires marking its main façade, Library of Congress

The Trinity Episcopal Church had two large spires marking its main façade, Library of Congress

Capital Losses by James M. Goode

Capital Losses by James M. Goode

By the early 1920s, the church was converted to a mission to serve the impoverished and by 1936, "the Episcopal Diocese of Washington agreed to lease the 14,000-square-foot property to Auto City Parking for $50,000. On June 16, 1936, the last service was conducted at the church. Demolition began three months later."

You can read more about the Renwick building in James M. Goode's Capital Losses.