Shaw in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
“Sweet Daddy” Grace
Midcity at the Crossroads
—Shaw Heritage Trail —
Along this block is the world headquarters of the United House of Prayer for All People. Founded in 1919 in Massachusetts by Charles M. “Sweet Daddy” Grace, the church moved its headquarters to Washington in 1926. Soon after, it purchased a mansion where the church is today. The mansion had housed Frelinghuysen University, a night school headed by noted educator Anna J. Cooper.
Bishop Grace’s mass baptisms were legendary. One year he baptized 208 people in front of 15,000 onlookers here on M Street, with water provided by local fire fighters. At the time of the flamboyant, charismatic evangelist’s death in 1960, his church claimed three million members in 14 states. Bishop Grace was succeeded by Bishop Walter McCollough, who expanded the church’s political influence. Under McCollough, the church purchased and built hundreds of units of affordable housing in Shaw and Southeast, as well as in North Carolina and Connecticut. The church is also known for its Saints Paradise Cafeteria, community service, music and outreach to the poor.
Over time nearly two dozen religious congregations have settled in Shaw. Congregations often traded spaces as their numbers grew or shrank, or they followed their membership to the suburbs. Along the trail you will see current and former houses of worship for Islam, A.M.E.
Bishop Charles M. “Sweet Daddy” Grace preaches from an open car on M Street, around 1950. (United House of Prayer for All People.)
This Second Empire style mansion was the original church headquarters, 1950. Grace Magazine, left, distilled the evangelist’s message. (United House of Prayer for All People.)
Bishop McCollough, center, leads a groundbreaking for a church expansion. (United House of Prayer for All People.)
The decorated Bishop’s House, North Portal Drive, NW, a Christmas season local landmark. (Washingtoniana Division, D.C. Public Library.)
Mourners watch as Bishop Grace’s casket is removed from of [sic]the original United House of Prayer on this block. (Washingtoniana Division, D.C. Public Library.)
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 13 of 17.)
Location. 38° 54.343′ N, 77° 1.216′ W. Marker is in Shaw, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on M Street, NW, west of 6th Street, NW, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20001, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least Reaching for Equality (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Seventh Street Develops (about 700 feet away); Immaculate Conception Catholic School (approx. 0.2 miles away); Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Power Brokers (approx. 0.2 miles away); Community Anchors (approx. 0.2 miles away); Words and Deeds (approx. 0.2 miles away); Central Public Library (approx. ¼ mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Shaw.
Also see . . .
1. United House of Prayer for All People. (Submitted on February 20, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Charles M. "Daddy" Grace (1881-1960). ...A combination of Daddy Grace's grandiosity, his followers' intense devotion, and popular confusion between Grace and the controversial Father Divine caused outsiders to be skeptical of the church for decades. After Grace's death, new leadership made superficial changes that allowed the United House of Prayer to move away from its marginal status and closer to the American religious mainstream. Early in the twenty-first century, its long-term stability invites an appreciation of the strength of the institutional foundations designed and laid by Grace. ... (Submitted on February 20, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Additional keywords. Marcelino Manuel da Graça; Cape Verdean Americans.
Categories. • African Americans • Churches, Etc. • Notable Buildings • Notable Persons •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 4,719 times since then and 160 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on September 11, 2016.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A photo of the marker and the surrounding area in context. • Can you help?