Friendship Baptist Church

734 1st Street, SW

This handsome late-19th century church is one of few buildings that survived the Southwest Washington urban renewal program of the 1950s and 1960s. The church symbolizes the resistance to one of the most important—yet also most socially destructive—urban renewal projects in the nation. The congregation and its pastor, Rev. Benjamin H. Whiting, saved the church from the demolition, effectively arguing that the church was one of the bedrock institutions of the neighborhood, along with Randall School and Southwest Health Center—the latter serving the “mind” and the “body” of the neighborhood, while Friendship served the spirit. Built in 1886-87 by one of the city’s earliest African-American congregations, the structure is a good representative example of eclectic Victorian design, displaying Romanesque, Gothic Revival, and Queen Anne motifs in its turreted façade. James E. Boyce was the builder; the architect is unknown. Additions include a 1930 choir loft and 1952 parish hall.

DC designation: May 27, 2004
National Register listing: November 19, 2004

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734 1st Street, SW