Downtown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
New York Avenue Presbyterian Church at Herald Square
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,
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.
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).
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).
Eleanor Medill “Cissy” Patterson at her desk as publisher of the Times-Herald
[Times-Herald headline, November 1940: “Roosevelt Wins!”] (The Washington Post Company.)
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number W.4.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • Churches & Religion • Government & Politics • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Downtown Heritage Trail, and the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1793.
Location. 38° 53.994′ N, 77° 1.852′ W. Marker is in Downtown in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is on New York Avenue Northwest (U.S. 50) west of H Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1313 New York Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20005, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Historic New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (a few steps from this marker); Dorothea Dix 1802 - 1887 (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Church of the Epiphany (about 600 feet away); Jane Addams 1860 - 1935 (about 600 feet away); W.E.B. DuBois 1868 - 1963 & Mary White Ovington 1865-1951 Luther and Charlotte Gulick (about 600 feet away); Susan B. Anthony 1820 - 1906 (about 600 feet away); Harriet Tubman circa 1820 - 1913 (about 600 feet away).
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
Also see . . .
1. New York Avenue Presbyterian Church: History. (Submitted on July 11, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Cissy Patterson. (Submitted on July 11, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Additional keywords. journalism
Credits. This page was last revised on June 10, 2019. It was originally submitted on July 11, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,360 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 11, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 6. submitted on August 19, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.