I once took a church group around Penn Quarter from Cavalry Baptist that wanted to know more about their neighborhood. I wanted to learn more about Cavalry Baptist. I’ve seen the brown brick venue peek out along 8th and H Sts. N.W., but never been in it.
Turns out Cavalry Baptist has quite a history. It was designed by Adolph Cluss, a communist from Germany who knew Karl Marx. Cluss built six churches around Washington as well as the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building and Eastern Market (where your job isn’t your credit when buying produce — cash only, please.)
The church was completed in 1866 and, true to Washington tradition, cost twice the original budget. Fortunately, Amos Kendall, who was a member of president Andrew Jackson’s “Kitchen Cabinet,” stepped in and paid $90,000 of the $134,000.
The following year, the church mostly burned down when fire trucks couldn’t get through heavy snow. Bummer. All that work and money gone.
Fortunately, there was insurance and Cavalry re-opened on 1869. Things went well for nearly a half century until July 30, 1913 when a tornado – yes, a tornado – went through downtown Washington and destroyed the steeple. In 1947, lightning hit the clock during a wedding that took nearly 60 years to fix.
I toured the inside of the building and found it to be both modern and expansive. It goes on forever. And, I’ve never met a nicer group of people.
Sunday service is 11 a.m. Cavalry has Spanish and Burmese congregations, too.