Washington Hebrew Congregation (Greater New Hope Baptist Church)

The congregation is the only synagogue to receive their charter through an Act of Congress.

Beginning in 1852 with a small group of German Jewish congregants practicing in private homes and rented space, the Washington Hebrew Congregation quickly grew to over 100 members, necessitating their search for a larger, permanent synagogue. However, their search was marred by concerns of being able to own property and operate a synagogue within DC, resulting in an Act of Congress in 1856 permitting their ownership and operation of the synagogue soon to be constructed.

The building that now stands at 816 8th Street NW is not the original building; the first was demolished and the site was reused to build a larger, more accommodating space in 1898. Designed by Stutz & Pease, the synagogue (now church) features two towers and four large stained glass windows with the Star of David on each as the central image. The building was greatly celebrated and utilized by the Jewish community, with its convenient downtown location allowing for hundreds of congregants to worship together. While the congregation moved to Cleveland Park due to continued growth in the 1950s, the building remained. The Greater New Hope Baptist Church purchased the building in 1954 and continues to use the space.

In 1996, the church underwent renovations, including removing the original stained glass windows. Because of their design and history with the Washington Hebrew Congregation, the church and synagogue worked together to preserve the windows. At the time, Greater New Hope gave them back to the Congregation for restoration and, if possible, to display them once again.

DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)



816 8th Street, NW