The National Cathedral located in Washington D. C.
is also known as the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. This building was inspired
by Pierre Charles L'Enfant's plan for a building which would be located in the heart of
city on the block bounded by F and G and 7th and 9th streets NW. He wanted the church to
be "for national purpose, such as public prayer, thanksgivings, funeral Orations,
&c. and assigned to the special use of no particular Sect or denomination, but equally
open to all." The National Cathedral is in no way affiliated with the federal
government nor does it have a congregation of its own.
A New York architect by the name of Ernest Flagg was commissioned to
submit a design in the Gothic and Renaissance styles in 1895. He decided that the
cathedral should be made of white marble with a 208-foot-high central dome and a capacity
of 3,500 people was intent in 1896. Flagg's design was controversial and was thought to be
the most monumental Neo-Renaissance structure in America. Unfortunately, Flagg's design
Sufficient funds had finally been collected to commence the cathedral
in 1907.Between 1989 and 1903, Henry Satterlee, the first bishop, purchased 57 acres on
Mount Alban above Georgetown with a commanding view of the city.
Architects Frederick Bodley and Henry Vaughan were hired to design the
cathedral, which was finished in the spring of 1907. The design was a Latin-cross church
with an octagonal baptistery attached to the south nave and a vestry was placed between
the north transept and polygonal choir. The central tower was designed to rise 220 feet,
with two lower towers with almost solid mass of masonry at the west end. Also, the two
decided that the design was based on typical fourteenth-century English models. There
would be stained glass, as in French Gothic cathedrals, but a more solid structure would
be put into use.
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1. Scott, Pamela, Lee, Antoinette J., Society of Architectural
Historians: Buildings of the United States: Buildings of the District of Columbia, New
York, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993