Sanctuary Restored

Sanctuary Restored

St. Thomas Parish

Several decades following the arson fire that burned down most of St. Thomas Parish, the development at 1772 Church Street transforms the surviving parish hall and English Gothic ruins into a modern multi-family residence and neighborhood church that reinvigorates the congregation’s presence within the community.

The church’s contemporary terracotta module facade stands out amid the surrounding Dupont Circle neighborhood, which is complemented by the incorporation of the remaining historic ruins to reflect a perfect blend of the past and present and seamlessly achieve the client’s vision for the church’s future.

Rising to a height of 65 feet, the project is composed of three distinct sections, including the existing parish hall with two added floors, the existing cloister entrance leading to a new block of apartments, and the new church along 18th Street. A stepping of the mass accommodates the new residence on the property, shifting the bulk of the church to 18th Street, and requiring the programming to be stacked vertically.

Inspired by the concept of ascension, the church is designed to lead the observer from the glazed corner entrance at Church and 18th Streets through the rising profile. The ascending stair and dynamic façade composition culminate at a large metal cross embedded in the light tower above the entrance.

Much like a traditional Italian campanile, the terracotta clad tower announces the church’s presence from far away and identifies the location of the main entrance. The continuous vertical glazed cut at the corner of the campanile emphasizes its verticality while offering a view of the sanctuary from the street.

A Taste of History

An altar from the original church was deconstructed and cataloged in a rigorous mapping process that allowed the pieces to be transported off site for cleaning and preservation before being returned to the church for reinstallation in the entry vestibule.

A double-height sanctuary on the second floor serves as the primary worship space, boasting high acoustical ceilings and paneling in addition to a mezzanine level which features a choir loft and a preserved organ from the original church. A sequence of multi-height openings along the facade ushers a subtle stream of light into the sanctuary during services, while causing the space to glow from within at night.

The new residential building transitions from Church Street’s row-house scale to the modern church along 18th Street in a cohesive yet distinguished composition that steps back to create private and shared terraces. To pay homage to the congregation’s storied history, the remaining relics of the parish hall façade are incorporated as a distinctive building entryway.

St. Thomas Parish opened successfully in April 2019, welcoming the congregation into its new home by celebrating its first service on Easter Sunday.


Occupied Units


Total Units


Inclusionary Zoning Units


1772 Church St, NW
Washington, DC


CAS Riegler Companies
St. Thomas Parish


Forrester Construction
Snead Construction
Zeus Living
Rugo Stone
Mark Rabinowitz
Ron Blunt Architectural Photography


Total: 65,869-SF
Church: 18,000-SF, 4-Floors
Residential: 47,869-SF, 7-Floors, 55 units