Friendship Baptist Church

This handsome late-19th-century church is a surviving building from the urban renewal of the 1950s and 1960s, and has since been repurposed for artistic and cultural use.

Friendship Baptist Church symbolizes the resistance to one of the most important—yet also most socially destructive—urban renewal projects in the nation, the Southwest Washington urban renewal program. The congregation and its pastor, Rev. Benjamin H. Whiting, saved the church from 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 between 1886 and 1887 by one of the city’s earliest African American congregations, the structure is a 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 a 1952 parish hall.

The building's exterior has since been creatively repainted and now houses Culture House DC, a space dedicated to the arts.

DC Inventory: May 27, 2004
National Register: November 19, 2004



734 1st Street, SW