Damage Confined to St. John’s Church Basement

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Photo: DC Fire Emergency Medical Services. Twitter/@dcfireems

The fire in St. John’s Episcopal Church (1525 H St. NW) was confined to a basement room, church representatives said in a newsletter Monday.

A small fire was ignited in the basement of Ashburton House, the parish house adjacent to the historic church Sunday night. The fire started as large crowds of demonstrators gathered on nearby Lafayetter Square. Initial reports from the scene were unclear whether the fire had been set inside or near the historic building.

A National Park Service (NPS) comfort station building was also lit on fire, and DC Fire EMS extinguished that fire overnight. At a June 1st press conference, Chief Gregory Dean said there were minimal delays in the response, as crowds had to be moved to allow fire trucks access to the scene.

Completed in 1816, every sitting president has attended at least one service in St. John’s since President James Madison. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. Ashburton house was built in 1836 and designated a landmark in 1973.

In an email signed by St. John’s Rector Rev. Rob Fisher as well as the Senior and Junior Wardens, church officials indicated that the fire appears to have been contained to the nursery. However, there is smoke and water damage to other areas of the basement.

The rest of the church and parish house is untouched except for some exterior graffiti, which the city’s graffiti team has already covered up, the email continued. The church will have a security crew on site once fire crews have completed their work.

“Please know how grateful we are for the support and messages we’ve received in thepast days,” the email concludes. “Please continue to pray for our community and our country.”

Learn more about the church and its history by visiting stjohns-dc.org/