St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church, Washington, DC


St. Benedict is a historically black congregation and one of the first Catholic churches in DC with a black pastor. It’s located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood facing a park that runs along the banks of the Anacostia River. The parish was created in 1946, the church’s cornerstone dates from 1950, and the complex was opened in 1952. The materials of the church are typical of the 1950s with red brick accented by limestone details. The engaging entrance includes a grid of windows and a statue of St. Benedict in the center. This initial building also includes the rectory behind it.


Next door is the school and convent from 1962. The two story building is long and shallow, sited across the primary elevation and set back a ways from the street. The materials here are lighter with more limestone trim around the windows and a lighter brick. The most striking feature is the school entrance. It consists of a one story connector between school wings. A strange abbreviated tower rises up from the center of the connector and pierces the roofline which is a square void open to the sky. It is unclear why this entrance is so highly designed in comparison to the rest of the complex.


The school is bookended at the other end by a community center of 1978. Besides a flat red canopy projecting from the entrance there is minimal detailing on this end of the complex.

IMG_2549Sources: Patsy M. Fletcher, Ward 7 Heritage Guide, DC Historic Preservation Office, 2013.

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