Brief History of a Romanesque Church in Mount Rainier

St. James Catholic Church is hard to miss on the Route 1 corridor and its history is also worth seeing.

Completed in 1926, the large Romanesque church at 3700 Rhode Island Ave. at Mount Rainier was built of brick and stone on a steel skeleton in a grand style common to Catholic churches of that time.

Separate buildings added later for a nearby school, rectory and convent add to the church complex, giving it a major presence along Route 1.

The church began in 1908 as a mission of Saint Francis de SalesDC’s oldest continuous congregation, with a complicated history dating back to the 1700s.

Like other Catholic churches on the Route 1 corridor, St. James’s thrived for decades due to its proximity to catholic university in Brookland, but saw a decline in attendance in the 1970s due to changes in area demographics.

In 2004, the church was taken over by priests from the Institute of the Incarnate Worda conservative catholic institute started in Argentina in 1984, and it has since grown due to awareness Central American immigrants, Filipinos and young families in the region.

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