Prolific Washington architect Appleton P. Clark Jr. designed the church in a similar Gothic style he used for the old Washington Post building that was razed in 1954. The cornerstone of the church was laid on April 16, 1892 and the first service was held on April 30, 1893.
Ornate stained glass windows, cornices, ramparts, balustrades and Potomac blue stone gave Eastern its grandeur. Because of its 130-foot bell tower that soared into the sky, the church was referred to as “the lighthouse on the hill.”
President Woodrow Wilson and his family attended Easter services at Eastern in 1913. One of its Sunday School rooms served as a USO lounge during World War II.
After Eastern merged with Metropolitan Presbyterian Church in 1954, the congregation, which became known as the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, moved to another part of Capitol Hill, and Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church occupied the building.
A time capsule was uncovered in 1956. It contained a copy of The Washington Post from April 16, 1892, a silk American flag with 38 stars and six coins.
When Mount Zion moved to Prince George’s County, it sold the building for $900,000 to the Imani Temple, an African American Catholic Congregation led by Archbishop George Stallings Jr. The 1994 dedication ceremony of the new church was attended by then-mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly, Marion Barry and Alim Abdul Muhammad, a spokesman for Louis Farrakhan.
The church was sold to the current owners just over a year ago.
“We have some interest from other developers,” said Emily Ehrens of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. She and Jayne Ehrens are the listing agents for the property. “There are a lot of ideas for it.”
Some of those ideas include transforming the church into a school, rental units or a single-family home. If the owners don’t receive a satisfactory offer, they’ll keep it and turn it into six luxury condos.
The 12,000-square-foot church is on the market for $5.9 million.