St. Matthew's Cathedral is one of the most impressive houses of worship in the United States. The simplicity of the exterior contrasts with the rich decorations of the interior. Its imposing copper ribbed dome is one of the visual focal points of the Washington skyline. The red brick church, designed by C. Grant La Farge in 1893, features eclectic design elements inspired by Italian churches.
The Roman Catholic parish of St. Matthew's was established in 1839 to relieve the overcrowding at St. Patrick's Church. On July 22, 1939, Pope Pius XII announced that the archdiocese of Washington was established and that St. Matthew's was its cathedral. In 1947 Washington was made an independent archdiocese, and St. Matthew's continues as a cathedral.
The cathedral has been the site of a number of important services, most notably the funeral of President John F. Kennedy on November 25, 1963. Today, a memorial marks the location of Kennedy's casket during the service. Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass at St. Matthew's in 1979.
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964
National Register: January 24, 1974