March 22, 2010 "Church of the Presidents" Is Subject of Author's Book Discussion

St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square Has Been Visited by All Presidents Since Madison

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., is unique among churches in the United States. A National Historic Landmark, located just north of Lafayette Square and in clear view of the White House, it has witnessed within its walls more notable civilian and military leaders of the U.S. than any other church in the nation.

Aside from the White House, St. John’s Church is the oldest building adjacent to Lafayette Square. It was designed, and its construction supervised, by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, a leading architect of the early national period. From its opening in October 1816, every president, beginning with James Madison, has attended St. John’s at least once. Several presidents have been members. Thus, St. John’s is called “the Church of the Presidents.”

Richard F. Grimmett, author of “St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square: The History and Heritage of the Church of the Presidents, Washington, D.C.,” will discuss and sign his book on Wednesday, March 24, at noon, in the West Dining Room, sixth floor of the Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E. This Books & Beyond program, sponsored by the Center for the Book, is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

A significant number of members of St. John’s, past and present, have played very prominent roles in the public life of the U.S. and the city of Washington. This book tells the story of this historic church from its origins to the present, while chronicling notable services held there and key events in the lives of distinguished Americans who were personally connected with St. John’s during their residence in Washington.

Grimmett is a specialist in international security with the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress. He is also a member of St. John’s and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Grimmett’s book is also the subject of a discussion on Facebook. The new Books & Beyond Book Club is available at Here readers can discuss books by authors who have appeared or will appear in this series. The site also offers links to webcasts of these events and asks readers to talk about what they have just seen and heard.

The Center for the Book ( was established by Congress in 1977 “to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to promote books, reading, literacy and libraries.” With its many educational programs that reach readers of all ages, through its support of the National Book Festival and through its dynamic state centers in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Center for the Book has developed a nationwide network of organizational partners dedicated to promoting the wonders and benefits of reading. The center also oversees the new website, with its exclusive “Exquisite Corpse Adventure” serialized story.


PR 10-059
ISSN 0731-3527