St. Augustine Catholic Church (Washington, D.C.)

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St. Augustine Catholic Church
Saint Augustine Roman Catholic Church.JPG
Location1419 V St., NW
Washington, DC 20009
CountryUnited States
DenominationRoman Catholic
WebsiteSt. Augustine Catholic Church
Founded1858 (1858)
DedicationSaint Augustine of Hippo
Dedicated1876 (1876)
Priest(s)Fr. Pat A. Smith

St. Augustine Parish in Washington, D.C. is a Roman Catholic parish consisting of St. Augustine Catholic Church; the parish also administers St. Augustine Catholic School, located in its same building.


Because of Jim Crow laws in the 1850s, emancipated black Catholic attendees of St. Matthew's Cathedral on Rhode Island Avenue were segregated and relegated to worship in the basement of the church.

In 1858, the group of emancipated black Catholics founded Saint Martin de Porres Church; its original location was 15th Street NW near L Street (Washington, D.C.. This was the first school for black children in Washington D.C. It was inaugurated five years before Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 in the United States of America, when education of black children started to be mandatory.

It was originally named Saint Martin de Porres church, in honor of Peruvian Dominican father Saint Martin de Porres, who was the American first mulatto saint. It became the first Black Catholic parish in Washington D.C. and was the first education center for Black children in Washington D.C.

Saint Martin de Porres Church[edit]

Old St. Augustine, circa 1899; view from 15th Street with two horse-drawn carriages. This photo was part of a display on the "present conditions" of African Americans for the 1900 Paris Exposition.

On July 4, 1864, their group raised building funds at the "strawberry festival" on the White House grounds, hosted by Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln.

Saint Augustine Catholic Church[edit]

In 1876 the church building was inaugurated and re-dedicated to Saint Augustine, a Roman African Christian theologian. The parish has continuously served a primarily Black middle-class community of professionals,[1] it was a 60-foot building with two Gothic spires, and seating for 2500 people.

In 1946 the church was sold for $300,000 and the last mass was held in its original building on Christmas of 1947.[2][3] If was demolished in 1948, 75 years after its inauguration. The site became the location of the Washington Post newspaper, and remained the Post's home until 2016 when the site was sold to private developers.

Current church and building[edit]

In 1961 St. Augustine Church merged with St. Paul's Church located at 15th and V Street, its current location. It was renamed to Sts. Paul and Augustine church until 1982, when it was renamed to once again be Saint Augustine Catholic Church.

Today, the church has 3,000 members in an active congregation of approximately 1000 families. The present building architecture is made with crafted stone and also has two spires as its original building once had.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Our History – Since 1858". St. Augustine Catholic Church – Washington, DC. 2009. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Our History - Since 1858". St. Augustine Catholic Church. Retrieved January 17, 2019.

External link[edit]

Coordinates: 38°55′07″N 77°01′58″W / 38.918561°N 77.032895°W / 38.918561; -77.032895