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Holy Trinity Catholic Church (Washington, D.C.)

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Title: Holy Trinity Catholic Church (Washington, D.C.)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart, Francis Neale, William J. Byron, Gerard Campbell
Collection: 1794 Establishments in the United States, 1794 Establishments in Washington, D.C., American Civil War Hospitals, Churches Completed in 1829, Former Cemeteries in Washington, D.C., Georgetown (Washington, D.C.), Landmarks in Washington, D.C., Religious Buildings Completed in 1829, Religious Organizations Established in 1794, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, Roman Catholic Churches in Washington, D.C., Roman Catholic Congregations Established in the 18Th Century
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Holy Trinity Catholic Church (Washington, D.C.)

Holy Trinity Catholic Church
Ecclesia Catholica Sanctae Trinitatis
Location 1301 36th St NW (St. Ignatius)
3513 'N' Street NW (Holy Trinity)
Washington, D.C.
Country USA
Denomination Roman Catholic
Website .org.trinitywww
Status Active
Functional status Parish church
Architect(s) Kerns Group Architects (St. Ignatius)[1]
Years built 1787 (renamed Chapel of St. Ignatius)
1849 (present building)
Parish Holy Trinity
Archdiocese Washington
Province Washington
Vicar(s) Fr. William Ryan, SJ
Pastor(s) Fr. Mark Horak, SJ
Director of music Dr. Kathleen DeJardin
Organist(s) Tim Duhr
Chapel of St. Ignatius

Holy Trinity Catholic Church is a Georgetown neighborhood, it was established in 1787 and finished construction in 1794 and is the oldest Roman Catholic house of worship in both Georgetown and the larger city of Washington, D.C. The original building was vacated due to the lack of space and is now the Chapel of St. Ignatius, which is used as an auxiliary space for parish activities.


  • History of the church 1
  • Cemetery 2
    • Holy Trinity Church cemetery of 1787 2.1
    • College Ground 2.2
    • Holy Rood Cemetery 2.3
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • External links 6

History of the church

Holy Trinity Church was established in 1787 at which is now 3513 N Street NW.[2] It was founded by

  • Holy Trinity Catholic Church Official site
  • Holy Trinity School
  • Jesuit Province of Maryland

External links

  • Curran, Robert Emmett (1993). From Academy to University, 1789-1889. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.  
  • Kelly, Laurence J. (1945). The History of Holy Trinity Parish, Washington D.C., 1795-1945. Baltimore, Md.: John D. Lucas Printing Company. 
  • Warner, William W. (1994). At Peace With All Their Neighbors: Catholics and Catholicism in the National Capital, 1787-1960. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. 


  1. ^ "Portfolio — Worship — Holy Trinity". 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Fletcher, Carlton (July–September 2002). "Burial Grounds of Holy Trinity Church, Georgetown, D.C.". Newsletter of the Catholic Historical Society of Washington. 
  3. ^ Chapel of St. Ignatius of Loyola
  4. ^ "History Trinity". Retrieved October 26, 2010. 
  5. ^ America's Church: The National Shrine and Catholic Presence in the Nation's Capital.  
  6. ^ Warner 1994, p. 3, 234 fn. 1 and fn. 2.
  7. ^ Kelly 1945, p. 17, 78.
  8. ^ Kelly 1945, p. 112.
  9. ^ "The Washington Post". October 22, 1998. 
  10. ^ "Cemetery Yields Forgotten Graves at Georgetown U.". The Washington Star. January 24, 1931 ; "The Washington Herald". January 25, 1931. 
  11. ^ Curran 1993, pp. 117-118.
  12. ^ a b c d Brint, Juliana (October 29, 2009). "Six Feet Under GU". The Georgetown Voice. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  13. ^ "GU to Transfer Ancient Graves". The Washington Post. April 17, 1953. 
  14. ^ Kelly 1945, pp. 112-113.
  15. ^ Warner 1994, p. 74.
  16. ^ "GU to Close Cemetery". The Washington Post. November 11, 1984. 


See also

Since the 1942 agreement, Holy Trinity Church has not maintained a cemetery for parish use. Parishioners rely instead on archdiocesan cemeteries in the area, such as Mount Olivet Cemetery in D.C. or Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring, Maryland.

[16][12] The university attempted to move all remains and use the cemetery for real estate development in 1984, but was stopped after a successful lawsuit by the survivors of people buried there. The university subsequently agreed to keep the cemetery open to visitors. While it abandoned "perpetual care" (the highest degree of maintenance for a cemetery), it agreed to continue minimal mowing, weeding, and other landscaping needs.[2] The university closed the cemetery to new burials in 1984 (except for special requests). There are 7,312 known burials there, as well as an unknown number of unidentified pauper's graves.[12] Originally called the Upper Grave Yard, this cemetery was at the southern terminus of Tunlaw Road NW. It was enlarged in 1853, and a [2] College Ground closed to new burials because Holy Trinity Church acquired a new, larger burying ground in 1832: Holy Rood Cemetery.

Holy Rood Cemetery

In 1953, Georgetown University cleared College Ground of remains and began preparing the area for the construction of new buildings. The university publicly said that only 189 remains existed at College Ground.[13] Fifty remains were transferred to Mount Olivet Cemetery,[2] while most of the others were transferred to Holy Trinity Church's Holy Rood Cemetery.[12] (A few remains were claimed by families, while a handful of others were reinterred in other cemeteries). Historian Carlton Fletcher believes that the 850 or so remaining bodies in College Ground either are still buried there, or were dug up and scattered when the Reiss Science Building (1962) and Edward B. Bunn S.J. Intercultural Center (1982) were excavated.[2]

Based on parish records, the number of graves at College Ground numbered more than 1,000 by 1833, when burials there ceased.[2] The cemetery fell into disrepair, with many tombstones and memorials destroyed, removed, or dislocated and placed off to one side. There was so little evidence that College Ground once existed that by the early 1930s the land was thought to be vacant. In 1931, Georgetown University began construction on a new dormitory, Copley Hall. When workers began clearing a "vacant lot" 100 feet (30 m) north of the Copley Hall excavation site, they rediscovered College Ground. Embarrassed by its sub-par stewardship of the graveyard, the university agreed to restore and care for the burying ground. But within 20 years, the college's need for land proved greater than its commitment to the cemetery.[12]

[2] A large number of African slaves, many of them owned by institutions (such as the university), were also buried in College Ground.[11] In 1818, Holy Trinity Church established a new burying ground on the north side of P Street NW at its intersection with 37th Street NW, adjacent to what is now

College Ground

In 1998, Holy Trinity Church began construction on an addition to the original church in what was believed to be open space on its land. On October 21, a skull and some small bones were unearthed.[9] District of Columbia law required that a forensic anthropological investigation occur, and one began immediately. The investigation turned up the remains of 44 individuals (men, women, and children). Evidence indicated that some of these remains had been buried as early as 1837 while others dated to 1865, and at least one set of remains belonged to an African American. These remains were removed and reinterred in another cemetery. Archeologists believed, however, that additional remains still existed. But with each day of delay adding $10,000 to the cost of construction, Holy Trinity Church officials determined that graves which would be undisturbed by the construction project—such as those buried beneath the basement, or those which would not be disturbed by construction—should remain where they are.[2]

A cemetery originally occupied what is now the site of the 1829 church and the Lower School.[2] This informal burying ground was established long before Holy Trinity Church bought its land.[6] In June 1796, an additional 20 feet (6.1 m) of land west of the church was purchased, and by 1798 the church owned all the ground west to 36th Street.[7] Many of the graves were relocated in 1817 when the burying ground closed, but by as late as 1917 (when Lower School was built) hundreds of them still remained.[8] Over time, nearly all of the remaining headstones and memorial markers were removed.[2]

Holy Trinity Church cemetery of 1787


From its inception, the parish has been administered by the Jesuits.

President John F. Kennedy and his family frequently worshiped at Holy Trinity.[5] Kennedy's attendance is commemorated by a plaque in front of the church building.

Holy Trinity Church established a parochial school for boys in 1818. It originally occupied a house on N Street east of the original church, but in 1818 the church built a schoolhouse at the northwest corner of N and 35th Streets NW. Holy Trinity School served grades one through eight. The school closed in 1829, but reopened in 1831. Holy Trinity Church remodeled its original church structure into a school in 1871, and moved classes into the structure. The church built two school buildings in 1918: The "Lower School" at the northeast corner of N and 36th Streets NW, and the "Upper School" at the southeast corner of O and 36th Streets NW. Students were delayed in using the Lower School, however, when the federal government requisitioned the building for use during World War I. The building was finally occupied as a schoolhouse in 1919.

The congregation soon outgrew its original building, and in 1829 a larger structure was erected at 1301 36th Street NW. This structure faced west, and did not include a tower. The first church was retained and renamed the Chapel of St. Ignatius. During the American Civil War, the US government used the church as a hospital to treat more than 200 injured soldiers after the Second Battle of Bull Run in 1862. The government returned the building to the congregation in 1863 and later reimbursed them $350 for use of the building.[4]


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