When it was constructed, the Park View Christian Church made church services more accessible to residents of the then-rural parts of D.C., enhancing the sense of community in the newly-developing Park View neighborhood. While a smaller chapel had existed on the property since 1877, the building we know today was built in 1905, and then expanded in 1920 when a wing was added to its south elevation. Designed by Orie L. Beardsley in a Gothic Revival style, the church's legacy has cemented it as an important meeting space for all of the congregations it has hosted over the years.
The first organization to call the church home operated out of the building until 1945. With the continued development of the neighborhood, builders had to expand the structure in order to host the growing congregation. Despite the expansions, the church building eventually became too small for the Christian Church congregation, resulting in them selling the church to another organization.
During this time, the building also served as the meeting place for the Park View Citizens' Association, which, for decades, was a major source of local D.C. representation. Formed in the late 19th century, the organization was one of the most influential citizens' associations in the city. Community members presented issues and concerns in the community and city to local officials, members of Congress, and other organizations.
The organization that purchased the church in 1945, the Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church, already held importance as one of the oldest African American Methodist congregations. Upon moving into the building, the church continued to bring its congregants together through community programming and religious services. However, in 1965, the church also took on a new role as one of the pilot organizations to participate in Head Start, one of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society programs.
A summer school program meant for low-income pre-kindergarten and elementary school students, the Head Start program focused on multiple aspects of a student's life to help better prepare them for their futures - topics included mental and physical well-being, relationship building, resource accessibility, and school tutoring. In addition to the main program, every attending child also received physical check-ups and a hot meal every day. Parents also had the option to drop children off at the daycare center and nursery that were also included in the church. With its expansive coverage for childcare and education, the Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church's success helped numerous families that participated in the program. Even First Lady Lady Bird Johnson visited the church on May 5, 1965 after hearing about its success.
Similarly to the Christian Church congregation, however, the Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church eventually found that the building became too small to house their expanding congregation. In 1983, the organization sold the building to the Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church, who operated out of the building until 1995. Afterward, the New Commandment Baptist Church took over the building until 2013. Since then, the building has been unoccupied.
Through various owners, the church brought together multiple communities, supported numerous congregants, and served as a pilot organization for Head Start.
DC Inventory: June 26, 2014
National Register: December 29, 2014