New York Avenue Presbyterian Church at Herald Square

New York Avenue Presbyterian Church at Herald Square (HMLZC)

Location: Washington, DC 20005
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 53.994', W 77° 1.852'

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Inscription

Civil War to Civil Rights

— Downtown Heritage Trail —

"The churches are needed as never before for divine services," President Abraham Lincoln

So said President Lincoln from his pew in New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. While other churches were occupied by the federal government for offices and hospitals during the Civil War, Lincoln insisted this church remain open for worship. The pastor, Dr. Phineas D. Gurley, was the president's spiritual guide through the war and during the fatal illness of Lincoln's young son, Willie, who on his deathbed left his small savings of $5 to the church.

President Lincoln regularly traveled the short distance from the White House to attend this church, a congregation founded by Presbyterian carpenters on the grounds of the White House in 1793. Lincoln's hitching post remains outside; his pew still stands in this somewhat enlarged, 1950s replica of the original church. President Lincoln also found solace in the church's midweek Bible classes. He sequestered himself in an adjacent room with the door ajar lest he disturb others with his presence.

A document in Lincoln's handwriting, proposing that the federal government end slavery by paying owners to free their slaves, is displayed in the church's Lincoln parlor. The plan was carried out only in Washington, D.C.

The church dominates an area now called Herald Square, named for the Washington Times-Herald newspaper that once occupied the white building at 1307 New York Avenue. Here, publisher Eleanor Medill "Cissy" Patterson created the nation's first round-the-clock newspaper, becoming one of the most powerful women in the country. Socialite, businesswomen, and political activist, she was a dominant force in the city's political and social life until her death in 1948.

[Photo captions:]

above and left:
President Lincoln, seen here with his family in a portrait by William Sartain, attended New York Avenue Presbyterian Church regularly (National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; National Portrait Gallery) . Left, a version of the Emancipation Proclamation (Smithsonian Institution - Gift of Marvin Sadik).

above::
New York Avenue Presbyterian Church as it looked when the Lincolns attended (National Archives). The president used the hitching post, left, that remains on New York Avenue. (Richard Bush).

right:
Eleanor Medill "Cissy" Patterson at her desk as publisher of the Times-Herald for which this square is named (C. Bettmann /CORBISS).

[Times-Herald headline, November 1940: "Roosevelt Wins!"] (The Washington Post Company.)
Details
HM NumberHMLZC
Series This marker is part of the Civil War to Civil Rights series
Tags
Marker NumberW.4
Placed ByCultural Tourism DC
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 20th, 2014 at 4:48pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 323888 N 4307628
Decimal Degrees38.89990000, -77.03086667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 53.994', W 77° 1.852'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 53' 59.64" N, 77° 1' 51.12" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)202
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1331-1399 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20005, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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