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On Becoming A Historic Site: John Wesley A.M.E. Zion

On Sunday, January 15, 2017 at the John Wesley AM.E. Zion Historical Society’ Members Meeting Mr. Clennie H. Murphy, Jr., John Wesley A.M.E. Zion Historical Society, Chairperson, invited Dr. E. Dewey Wiseman, John Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church, Director of Christian Education, to address the topic: “Criteria for John Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church, 1615 Fourteenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009, Reverend Dr. Vernon A. Shannon, Pastor, becoming a Historic Site.”

Upon a careful search of the literature, it was revealed to Dr. Wiseman, from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, that The John Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church may very well already be a Historic Site, based upon the narrative that Wikimedia Commons had published: “The building was listed as a D.C. Historic Landmark on July 24, 1968. In addition, the church is a designated contributing property to the Fourteenth Street Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.”

A review of The District of Columbia Inventory of Historical Sites, Alphabetical Version, September 30, 2009, page 174, revealed the following information: “John Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church (Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church), 14th & Corcoran Streets, NW, Splintered from Asbury in 1847, moved to present location in 1913; center of civil rights activism; Latin cross plan with square tower over transcript, transitional in style between Romanesque and Gothic, red brick with rusticated red stone base; built in 1894 for Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Murdock and Harding, architects); DC listing, July 24, 1968; within Fourteenth Street Historic District.

A review of The National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheets, The Greater Fourteenth Street, Historic District, Washington, DC, page 74, item 18, revealed that the John Wesley Methodist Church, 14th and Corcoran Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C. was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on 11/9/94.

The United States Department of Interior National Park Service definition of The Greater Fourteenth Street Historic District, Washington D.C. on July 15, 1994 was as follows: “The Greater 14th Street Historic District is located in Northwest Washington, D.C. within the boundaries of the original City of Washington, D.C. as designed by Pierre Charles L’ Enfant in 1790-1791. This area experienced substantial development in the mid-to-late-nineteenth-century as the city’s growing population expanded north of the established urban core. Today, The Greater 14th Street area represents the precursor to the subsequent development that created the northwest quadrant of the original city. As one of the first areas in Northwest Washington, D.C. to respond to the development pressures of the young city, the 14th Street environs illustrate the patterns of transportation-based development. In addition to providing important historical perspectives on the city’s growth, the area survives with significant examples of its history intact. This major commercial and transportation corridor is flanked by intact rows of Victorian housing and commercial buildings, punctuated by important local churches and public buildings, grand and discreet turn-of-the century apartment buildings, and a rich variety of twentieth century auto-related structure. This residential, commercial, and institutional architecture defines The Greater 14th Street image.”

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