PARISH PROFILE: St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, D.C.

This profile was published in the January 2008 Orthodox Observer, and can be read in full online - Page 19 -

PARISH PROFILE:  St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral

LOCATION:  Washington, D.C.

FOUNDED:  1904


Early Years

Theodore Roosevelt was president and the Wright Brothers were basking in the limelight following their recent successful historic airplane flight when a handful of Greeks from Laconia and Arcadia in the Peloponnesus - about 30 families - settled in Washington.

According to a history by parishioner Peter Koutsandreas, these immigrants rented the upper room of a hall in November 1904 and established their community, naming it after Haghia Sophia of Constantinople.

The first priest, Fr. Nathaniel Sideris, served only two years and was succeeded by Archimandrite Fr. Joakim Alexopoulos, who served through the turbulent years of world War I, until 1919

As time passed their numbers grew and the community moved to a larger hall, a room over a store at 6th and G streets in the lower northwest quadrant of the city.

It was the location of the first synagogue in Washington, Arlas Israel, that is now the site of the Jewish Museum.  
In 1913, the community grew to the point where a permanent church was needed.  Property at 8th and I streets was purchased and became the site of the first church building.  It stood where the Washington Convention Center now stands. . . . .