Midcity at the Crossroads
— Shaw Heritage Trail —
Along this block is the world headquarters of the United House of Prayer for All People. Founded in 1919 in Massachusetts by Charles M. "Sweet Daddy" Grace, the church moved its headquarters to Washington in 1926. Soon after, it purchased a mansion where the church is today. The mansion had housed Frelinghuysen University, a night school headed by noted educator Anna J. Cooper.
Bishop Grace's mass baptisms were legendary. One year he baptized 208 people in front of 15,000 onlookers here on M Street, with water provided by local fire fighters. At the time of the flamboyant, charismatic evangelist's death in 1960, his church claimed three million members in 14 states. Bishop Grace was succeeded by Bishop Walter McCollough, who expanded the church's political influence. Under McCollough, the church purchased and built hundreds of units of affordable housing in Shaw and Southeast, as well as in North Carolina and Connecticut. The church is also known for its Saints Paradise Cafeteria, community service, music and outreach to the poor.
Over time nearly two dozen religious congregations have settled in Shaw. Congregations often traded spaces as their numbers grew or shrank, or they followed their membership to the suburbs. Along the trail you will see current and former houses of worship for Islam, A.M.E. Zion, Baptist, Catholic, Christian, Christian Evangelical, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, and other faiths.
Bishop Charles M. "Sweet Daddy" Grace preaches from an open car on M Street, around 1950. (United House of Prayer for All People.)
This Second Empire style mansion was the original church headquarters, 1950. Grace Magazine, left,
distilled the evangelist's message. (United House of Prayer for All People.)
Bishop McCollough, center, leads a groundbreaking for a church expansion. (United House of Prayer for All People.)
The decorated Bishop's House, North Portal Drive, NW, a Christmas season local landmark.(Washingtoniana Division, D.C. Public Library.)
Mourners watch as Bishop Grace's casket is removed from of [sic
]the original United House of Prayer on this block. (Washingtoniana Division, D.C. Public Library.)