Chinese Community Church

The cornerstone for the Fifth Presbyterian Church at 500 I St., NW was laid in 1852. The architect of the church was Thomas U. Walter, founder and second president of the American Institute of Architects, who also designed the east and west wings and dome of the US Capitol. The church housed various denominations over the years, including a synagogue, and in 2006 became the Chinese Community Church. The building is a contributing structure to the Downtown Historic District, but extensive 20th-century modifications of this 1850s church had left it unrecognizable. The brick façade was covered with formstone, the window eyebrows had been removed, the stained glass windows were covered with a nearly opaque Plexiglas, and the original tower was replaced with a low, golden colored dome. The church clearly looked out of place with the block’s other historic buildings.


WEI restored the brickwork, rebuilt the window eyebrows, and installed clear glazing over the stained glass windows. To restore the brickwork, WEI carefully removed the formstone, performed lead paint abatement, and repointed the historic red brick with a lime-based mortar. Deteriorated brick was patched with a tinted mortar, and missing or severely damaged