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Behold, the second coming of St. Thomas Parish Church Washington, DC (1517 18th Street NW, off Dupont Circle). Kind of looks like the musical instrument that the space aliens flew down to Earth in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg, 1977) to play the dumb-ass tune that mesmerized mankind. At least they tacked that cross on top of the shoebox-like tower, so you get a clue. Extra style points, too, for the janky little window around the side. Below are the buildings across the street from this humdinger, nothing grand, but sufficiently charming to please the casual observer. And below that, a shot of the original church. The cornerstone was laid in 1899, but the “History” tab of the Church’s website omits the name of the architect. The building burned down in 1970 and part of the original facade was included in a mini-park on the site. The new iteration of St Thomas Parish Church was built starting in 2017. The website omits that architect’s name, too.
Thanks to Tom Morris for the nomination.

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

19 Responses to “September 2020”

  1. My Point of View September 2, 2020 at 4:54 pm #

    That is one ugly building, looks like the windows blew out in a wind storm. It’s very out of place for that part of DC which is full of great old buildings with class, as seen here: https://tinyurl.com/y228rhow

  2. tom clark September 2, 2020 at 6:43 pm #

    For God’s sake, Jimbo. It’s a CHURCH…don’t dare denigrate it while everyone’s favorite president rules the land.

    The Monthly Eyesore urgently needs an update, or you will appear dated, James.

    For October, I suggest a picture of Grand Staircase-Escalante’s Bear’s Ears with a photoshopped oil rig in the background.

    Then for the big month of November, bring in Mt. Rushmore (ND or SD, Mike…which one are we in? Doesn’t matter ’cause they’re both red states, right?).

    Resurrect that ol’ racist Gutzon Borglum to carve the POTUS’ mug in the gap between Roosevelt and Lincoln. Just what the good ol’ US of A needs to lead the country to the right (double entendre intended).

    Clusterfuckers, in the words of host James Kunstler, the next several months should be a “humdinger”.

  3. tucsonspur September 2, 2020 at 7:36 pm #

    Yes, too bad, out with the old and in with the ‘phew’! However, this structure is not as abhorrent as some of the other recent examples of abysmal architecture that we have been tortured by. Rather, it offers a mild comfort and seems to say, ‘press any rectangle and the window of salvation will open, and the Lord’s light will shine upon you.’

    Maybe it’s some type of giant, modern xylophone, but how would it be played? Dare they swing sinners from some type of mobile crane into the façade as percussion sticks?

    The windows remind one of ladders, so this edifice could appropriately be called the ‘Church of Ladder Day Saints’, and congregants could then try to climb to the heavens.

  4. par4 September 2, 2020 at 7:45 pm #

    Definitely needs gargoyles

  5. dowd September 3, 2020 at 5:36 am #

    St. Thomas Parish Church Washington, DC is a “death work”, a Modernist monstrosity celebrating the Nu-Catholic Church of Vatican II where cultural Marxism is inculcated in place of the Word of God.

    All the other pictures are glorious in comparison.

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  6. MLMDC1 September 3, 2020 at 1:50 pm #

    Reminds me of computer punch cards from the seventies. Or hanging chads.

  7. bymitch September 3, 2020 at 9:55 pm #

    Gothic to goth.
    The backstory, a tale of selling ones soul for diabolical favours.
    A displaced white cross and the blinding of the stained glass narrative against the backdrop of dripping flesh.
    The modern take on medieval trepidation with a power shift from enlightenment to consequence?
    Probably nice on the inside.

  8. Zarko Straadi September 3, 2020 at 11:57 pm #

    The St. Tetris Parish Church. Can we have a sectarian conflict with Our Lady of Space Invaders across town?

    • DrTomSchmidt September 8, 2020 at 7:52 pm #

      Thanks for the laugh.

  9. cowboy14 September 5, 2020 at 12:06 am #

    The worst part is how the pseudo steeple looks like a truncated vestigial organ of a steeple belonging to a nuclear fallout victim’s deformed and mutated offspring. Like this church is the product of an illicit tryst between the original St. Thomas Parish Church and the J. Edgar Hoover building if they banged in Chernobyl. Yup, just super glue some LED strip lights in the shape of a cross on that bad boy and call it a day. It is fascinating how the meta-trend in this and related mental sicknesses in our society is the substitution of virtual things for real, embodied things. Here we have an essentially virtual cross on a suggestion of a steeple, where the original church had physical, embodied crosses on top of real steeples.

  10. Yukon Tom September 11, 2020 at 5:12 pm #

    No comparison to the recently built Russian Orthodox Church in Russia for the Russian Armed Forces. Now that is what Architecture is suppose to look like! Enough of big boxes wrapped in tin.


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  11. Yukon Tom September 11, 2020 at 11:41 pm #

    Just a thought Jim about the Eyesore of the month. A counterpoint to all the crap that is built these would be a monthly example of architecture “done right”, taking into account history, culture environment tradition of a community. There must still be a few architects who haven’t sold their soul.

  12. Peter VE September 18, 2020 at 10:35 am #

    The phrase: “Com’era, dov’era.” has never seemed more abandoned.
    When the Campanile of St Marks in Venice collapsed a century ago, the debate was between replacing it with a modern version (although not as “Modern” as this), or rebuilding the original.
    “Com’era, dov’era.” (How it was, where it was.) won, to the eternal delight of all residents and visitors (even the architects).

  13. bymitch September 24, 2020 at 12:29 am #

    Peter VE
    The problem seems to be that when things are broken it is no longer an automatic response to fix them.
    We have a similar situation, down here, with the Christchurch Cathedral, where this local icon was extensively damaged in the 2011 earthquakes, along with most of the city.
    After rumbling around with numerous replacement proposals, last year they announced the plan, to put it back the way it was.
    Architecture back into bricks and mortar instead of into finance deals and profit margins, I say.
    Although not a highly religious type, I am pretty sure that this approach is closer to God.

  14. Night Owl October 9, 2020 at 9:14 am #

    The new structure is bad enough when viewed in isolation, but seeing it alongside a pic of the previous church makes me want to cry. What on earth is wrong with people today?

  15. hannahberry October 26, 2020 at 10:50 pm #

    The historical information is very useful, I appreciate this information. geometry dash

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  16. trentboult December 10, 2020 at 1:17 am #

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  17. notocoomers July 31, 2021 at 12:14 am #

    This looks like something a little kid would create in Minecraft.

    Scratch that, kids can do it better.