Formally known as Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church, Luther Place Memorial Church was founded in 1873 as a memorial to peace and reconciliation following the Civil War; two of the original pews were even dedicated to Generals Grant and Lee. The first pastor of Luther Place, Reverend John Butler, was an abolitionist who advocated for Black pastors in the Lutheran Church. In 1886, Daniel Wiseman became ordained at Luther Place and founded DC’s first Black congregation, Our Redeemer, that same year.
Architect Judson York created the original design for the current Luther Place Church, but after his plans were deemed too expensive, architects John C. Harkness and Henry S. Davis took over. The Church features a triangular form, robust massing with a large octagonal tower facing the circle, smaller side towers, and buttressed façades of quarry-faced red sandstone. Inside is a fan-shaped auditorium with wooden ceiling arches, cast iron columns, Gothic tracery, and stained glass. The statue of Martin Luther on our grounds was dedicated in 1884 on the 400th anniversary of Martin Luther’s birth.
The statue outside the church is a replica of one erected in Worms, Germany, where his teachings were first outlawed in the 16th century. Luther's 95 Theses opposed the Catholic church and was the foundational document for Protestantism in 16th century Europe.
After a fire in 1904, the Church underwent repairs and subsequent interior alterations. The construction of a parish house followed in 1951, using the designs of architect Luther M. Leisenring.
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)
National Register: July 16, 1973