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Not trying to go totally off-topic, but Orthodox church festivals in general are a chance to eat some high-quality ethnic cuisine for a reasonable price, take a dip into that culture with music/dance/arts/books, and rest assured that your modest expense is going to good causes. The best ethnic Egyptian food I've had lately was at the St Abanoub Coptic Orthodox church festival in Springfield a month ago. The St Aphraim Syriac Orthodox church festival in May had some excellent Syrian food. St George Antiochan Orthodox church downtown has wonderful Syrian food too. When you go behind-the-scenes and see all the moms and grandmoms show up a few days prior, and start rolling grape leaves in the kitchen, you know you're in for the real deal. (With that, I'm sure Don will begin a new topic on Orthodox church festivals.)
If you've driven north-south on 16th Street you've seen them, and if you've driven east-west on Columbia Road you've seen them (at mid-day on Sundays, perhaps for longer than you'd care to). These are the three formidable churches in the Mount Pleasant - Columbia Heights - Adams Morgan neighborhoods - at least the ones prominently visible from 16th Street - and along with numerous other items of architectural interest in the immediate area (e.g., The Temple of the Scottish Rite (also known as "The House of the Temple") on 16th and S Street, the Ecuadorian Embassy on 15th and Euclid Street, the Headquarters of the Inter-American Defense Board (also known as "The Pink Palace") on 16th and Euclid Street, the Lutheran Church Center (also called the Warder-Totten House, which has had more lives than a cat, and could have been tagged in the thread title, but it's not a place of worship), the Meridian House on 16th Street and Crescent Place, and of course, Meridian Hill Park which is 12 acres in size, stretching from Florida Avenue to Euclid Street along the east side of 16th Street, and I'm sure I've omitted several other buildings of merit and interest), anyway, along with this rather amazing concentration of historic architecture (we're talking about architects such as John Russell Pope (arguably the most important architect in Post-1800 Washington, DC, having designed the National Archives Building, the Jefferson Memorial, and the National Gallery of Art (West Building) - those three buildings alone are enough make you say, "Huh?") and George Oakley Totten, Jr. (who designed numerous mansions along 16th Street and in the Kalorama Circle area), we have three churches large enough to stand out and make drivers turn their heads. Sitting up by itself on 16th Street and Columbia Road is the National Baptist Memorial Church: I don't know much about the architecture behind this church (when it was completed, or who designed it), and would love to have someone knowledgeable in architecture comment on the style and the architect. However, I did find an interesting web page devoted to its groundbreaking in 1921, with President Warren G. Harding actually breaking the ground: Apr 23, 2014 - "Historic Photos of the 1921 Groundbreaking for the Columbia Heights National Baptist Memorial Church" on parkviewdc.com And also the 1922 Cornerstone Ceremony attended by Secretary of State Charles E. Hughes. I've read that the building was constructed over a couple of decades (which might make it the youngest of the three churches, despite being designed first - I'm not sure when construction was completed on any of the three): Sep 11, 2014 - "Historic 1922 Photo of National Baptist Memorial Church's Corner Stone Ceremony" on parkviewdc.com As impressive as this church is, it takes a back seat (in visual prominence) to other the two Meridian Hill churches sitting face-to-face on the south side of 16th and Harvard Streets. As you're driving south down 16th Street, you can see all three churches at once, with the one just described in the foreground: Notice also that as you're approaching the southernmost two, there's a Capital Bikeshare rack on the right: In the Architecture Thread in the Art Forum, the book, "The AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, DC" is mentioned, and that book refers to both of these next two churches, possibly taking a not-so-subtle swipe at the first, the All Souls Unitarian Church, which was "inspired" (rather blatantly, I will add) by London's Saint-Martin-in-the-Fields, on the southwest corner of the intersection: . The similarities between this and London's famous church are unmistakable. From the book: "1924, Coolidge & Shattuck - St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, by James Gibbs, provided the architectural inspiration for this building as it did for so many other churches throughout America, Britain, and Canada." Across 16th Street rests, mano-a-mano with the All Souls Unitarian Church, the impressive and beautiful Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, now unfortunately masked by scaffolding: Up above, I said the book "possibly" takes a not-so-subtle swipe at All Souls, but the way they worded it, they could just as easily be talking about the row of rat-infested (I've seen them with my own eyes) storefronts on Mount Pleasant Street, so decide for yourselves (bold emphasis is my own): "1933, Young & Hansen - Designed to suggest the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City and capped by the Angel Moroni, the building, with its delicate, linear detailing, stratified stone skin, and consistent verticality, creates one of the most elegant small churches in town. Or perhaps the sense of success is relative and results from comparing it to its distinctly unsubtle neighbors across the street." Who they're slamming all depends on which "street" they're referring to - it's ambiguous, and could go either way. Regardless, this is a beautiful area for a stroll or a bike ride, and all of the buildings mentioned here are worth seeing.