Immaculate Conception Church (Washington, D.C.)

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Immaculate Conception Church
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.JPG
Immaculate Conception Church (Washington, D.C.) is located in Washington, D.C.
Immaculate Conception Church (Washington, D.C.)
Location1315 8th St., NW, Washington, District of Columbia
Coordinates38°54′26″N 77°1′22″W / 38.90722°N 77.02278°W / 38.90722; -77.02278Coordinates: 38°54′26″N 77°1′22″W / 38.90722°N 77.02278°W / 38.90722; -77.02278
Arealess than one acre
ArchitectClements, Edward
Architectural styleGothic Revival, Italianate
NRHP reference #03000946[1]
Added to NRHPSeptember 17, 2003

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church is a historic Catholic parish located at 1315 8th Street NW in Washington, D.C.. The church, school, rectory, and convent were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

The cornerstone of the original church, located on a lot near the corner of 8th and N Streets, Northwest took place on October 30, 1864. Martin John Spalding, Archbishop of Baltimore, dedicated the new church on July 2, 1865, the Feast of the Visitation. The parish rapidly outgrew this structure, however, and on November 13, 1870 the cornerstone for the present Gothic Revival church was laid, with construction commencing the following year. It was dedicated in 1874, at which time the old structure became the parish and school hall. The church was refurbished in 1939 and 1962–3.[2]


The construction of the church was finished on October 30, 1864. Father Reverend Patrick F. McCarthy was the first Pastor of the church. Before Immaculate Conception Church was established, St. Patrick's Church built in 1794 was the first as well as the only Catholic church in the City of Washington (D.C.). St. Patrick's Church was becoming overcrowded. To better suit its members, Immaculate Conception Church was founded in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC. Back to the beginning of the eighteenth century, most parishioners of the church were either Catholics who were original residents in this area or other immigrating Irish Catholics, and worshiping weekly was a part of their tradition. The land of Immaculate Conception Church originally belonged to William Jones, and it was deeded by him on October 6, 1864 for $16,000, with $8,000 paid up front. It can be seen that the church was under the construction even before the land was deeded. Father J. Walter began the project during the summer of 1864. The cornerstone was laid on Sunday, October 30, 1864. Construction was completed the following summer of 1865. On July 2, the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin, the Most Reverend Martin J. Spalding, Archbishop of Baltimore, dedicated the new church assisted by Father Walter and Rev P. F. McCarthy of St. Patrick's. The landowner's desire was to make this land a place for church and school. At the meantime, a school was also built associated with the church and it was named as Immaculate Conception Catholic School. The building was finished construction in 1908. Due to the creation and establishment of a school, the number of parishioners grew by over 2,000. As a result, the Immaculate Conception Church and School could not hold its growing population. The developments of the area in the two periods (1800-1850 and 1850-1880) are strongly related. Before 1850 when St. Patrick's Church was still the only Catholic Church in the City of Washington (D.C.), it benefited the neighborhoods including Shaw. However, parishioners in Shaw had to walk to St. Patrick's Church at 10th and G Streets Northwest. Since there was no Catholic Church in Shaw neighborhood prior to 1850, parishioners in Shaw tended to have their own church as well as a catholic school. The lack of a local catholic church in Shaw before 1850 really encouraged the establishment of the Immaculate Conception Church in 1860s. “It was located on N Street next to a vacant corner lot 8th and N Streets and was the first structure to be built in the area.”[3] Therefore, it is a very significant landmark in Shaw neighborhood, and it helped the neighborhood build up a reputation.


  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ "History of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church". Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  3. ^ "History of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church Washington, D.C." Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Retrieved 2 March 2013.

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