The Washington National Cathedral has been a landmark of religious significance for over a century, and its surrounding structures date back to the early twentieth century. The Cathedral Close (an enclosed area surrounding the designated spot for the Cathedral) was selected in the late 1800s, an open space that seemed more suitable for religious worship than the cluttered center of the city. The space also allowed for future expansion.
First opened to the public in 1901, the Cathedral Close gardens and grounds soon filled with administrative buildings, greenhouses, and schools. The first building constructed on the site, the Renaissance-revival style Hearst Hall, was designed by Robert Gibson to “harmonize with the future cathedral.” Construction of the National Cathedral began in 1907 after the completion of numerous buildings in the Close. Despite this lapse in timing, the majority of buildings were designed in the Neo-Tudor and Neo-Gothic styles, providing the historic district with a cohesive feel. The Cathedral was finally completed in 1990 -- a full 83-years after construction began.
The Close is bounded by Woodley Road on the north, Wisconsin Avenue on the west, Massachusetts Avenue at the southwest corner, Garfield Street on the south, and 34th Street on the east.
Today, the Close is home to notable schools (such as St. Alban’s and the National Cathedral School for Girls), an expansive garden (tended by the All Hallows Guild), and various administrative buildings for National Cathedral staff.
DC Inventory: March 7, 1968
National Register: May 3, 1974