The White House's Lafayette Park
St. John's Church
Welcome to the White House’s Lafayette Park tour. I’m your guide Rick Snider, a native Washingtonian, journalist and licensed guide who enjoys telling stories of my hometown.
And, I especially love this Lafayette Park tour we're about to take because it offers so much varied history, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to the present… all within a little park. There are even stories of lust and murder.
But we're starting across the street from Lafayette Park here at a yellow building called St. John’s Episcopal Church. It's known as the Church of the Presidents. Every president has attended services here since it opened in 1816, and they’ve all sat in the same pew: number 54. It’s still an active church, and six ghostly men are said to attend funerals here.
Many presidents weren't Episcopalian and would also worship elsewhere, but they've all made trips to St. John's given its close proximity to the White House. The church is open to the public so you can go inside – just try to be discreet.
Before we set off, let me explain how this works. VoiceMap uses your location to play commentary automatically. You can put your phone in your pocket, and focus on your surroundings. You’ll hear my voice again when you reach the next destination, and I'll give you directions to keep you on track.
Let’s start walking now. Cross over H Street towards the White House.