|About St. Mary's|
Mindful of our rich heritage and present gift of diversity, our mission is to be a parish that is spiritual, clear of purpose and exciting; that enables all of our members to fulfill the Christian mandate to believe in and praise God, to follow Christ's teaching, and to do God's work in our multi-faceted community.
145 Years of Ministry in Foggy Bottom
Foggy Bottom 1885
St. Mary's parishioners come from all over Metropolitan Washington, but they have not forgotten the living witness St. Mary's has borne in Foggy Bottom.
One hundred forty-one years ago, Russia sold Alaska to the US for two cents an acre; the American Civil War had come to a close two years before; and small group of Episcopalians, newly emancipated made plans to hold their first service in a refurbished Union Army Chapel.
Edwin M. Stanton, Lincoln's Secretary of War, had been persuaded to move the building from Kalorama Hospital to a lot on 23rd Street, NW, between G and H, which had generously been donated by Mrs. Catherine Pearson, a member of St. John's.
The church building now on site was designed by James Renwick, the distinguished architect of the Smithsonian Castle and the Renwick Gallery. The building budget in 1887 was only $15,000, raised by the congregations of St. John's Lafayette Square and the Church of Epiphany. Despite the modest budget the building conforms in every detail to Renwick's design. There have been only minor modifications to the building since the first service over one hundred years ago. The church contains a memorial for Edwin M. Stanton by the Tiffany Studio and a triptych window over the altar, featuring saints of African descent, by Lorin Studios in Chartres, France.
The original hanging gas lights remain in the church and archways. The building is designated and protected as a National Historic Landmark.
There is not enough room to list all the good men and women under whose leadership St. Mary's built a beautiful brick church in 1886, achieved parish status in 1928 and always reached out to those around her.
Boys Club 1906
St. Mary's has many notable accomplishments to her credit. One of the first Boys Clubs in Washington was organized here. A mission to the whole neighborhood, regardless of creed, it was founded with the help of the beloved Deaconess, Mary Amanda Betchler. And out of this grew a special mission in Snow's Court, then the most disreputable and dangerous section in the city. One of the first baby clinics, one of the first vacation bible schools, a sewing school and cooking school were established at St. Mary's. The church also provided facilities for mentally retarded children.
A more recent example of this divine service was the creation of St. Mary's Court, located adjacent to the church affordable housing for seniors, was the brainchild of parishioners and became a diocesan project. St. Mary's has awarded more than 125 Martin Luther King Scholarships to students of all faiths and abilities since the fund was established in 1970.
St. Mary's today
Many changes have occurred in Foggy Bottom since the beginning of St. Mary's Parish, and the church's congregation and its ministry reflect those changes. The character of the parish neighborhood has changed from single-family dwellings to the townhouses, high rise apartment buildings and businesses. As a viable Washington institution, St. Mary's continues to build on its rich cultural and historical heritage by reaching out to the ever changing milieu of the Foggy Bottom community, providing spiritual leadership and service to its parishioners, residents and the surrounding university neighbors.