History of St. Nicholas Cathedral
Founded in 1930 as the
Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas, the parish was originally located in
Riggs Place in Northwest Washington, DC. The first pastor was Reverend
John Dorosh who lived above the chapel. In 1934, the Dormition Sisterhood
and the Nation’s Capital “R” Club were formed. In 1935 the parish moved to 1708
Church Street, also in Northwest Washington just a few blocks from Riggs Place.
In 1938, Father Paul Lutov replaced the retiring Reverend Dorosh. Father Lutov helped to introduce English into parish services to ensure that the Word of God could be understood by everyone. After WWII, Fr. Lutov left his post as rector although he remained active in the parish. St. Nicholas rectors from 1948 to 1951 were Monk-Priest John (Morozov) and Father Nikolai Makowelski.
The parish had grown to 100 members by about 1950. In 1951 Metropolitan Leonty blessed the newly purchased site at Massachusetts Avenue and Edmunds Street, our current location.
In 1955 after the death of Bishop Jonah (rector), Archpriest Arkady Moiseyev became Rector of St. Nicholas Church. Fr Moiseyev guided St. Nicholas through the building and dedication of our current facility. The edifice was completed in late 1962 and was dedicated as a National War Memorial Shrine in 1963.
Over the years St. Nicholas Cathedral has had many dedicated clergy serving our church. With the elevation of St. Nicholas to the Metropolitan's Cathedral, Fr Arkady Moiseyev became Dean and Fr Dmitry Grigorieff became Provost. In the early 1970s Fr Dmitry was very active in ensuring that there were regular English Liturgies. In 1986 Fr Dmitry was elevated to Dean of the Cathedral and Fr Constantine White became Associate Pastor. In February 1998 Fr Dmitry became Dean Emeritus and Fr Constantine was made Acting Dean. Later that year Father Constantine was installed as the Dean of the Cathedral. Father Valery Shemchuk joined that Cathedral staff in an official capacity as Associate Pastor in early 2003 after having served several summers here as a Seminarian intern.
St. Nicholas has always had a very active Choir. Mr. Nicholas Borodulia was the choir director from 1955 to 1985. In 1996 Professor Serge Boldireff joined the choir and led it to a more visible role. The choir was proud to participate in Metropolitan HERMAN’s Enthronement in 2002 as well as many visits from hierarchs, such as the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, in the past several years. In 2003, the choir released its latest CD "This is the Day", available at the Cathedral Bookstore or through the Orthodox Christian Publications Center. In June of 2005, the Cathedral welcomed Ken Kasovac as the new Music Director.
The St. Nicholas Sunday School was first organized in 1950 and continues today with an enrollment of about 25-30 children. Sunday School is held in the parish annex immediately following the English Divine Liturgy on Sunday mornings from Labor Day through Memorial Day.
In 1991 St. Nicholas Cathedral was honored to have a group of dedicated iconographers arrive from Moscow. Led by Alexander Moskalionov, they wrote icons throughout the Narthex in traditional style. Several new icons were created commemorating the arrival of Orthodoxy to America as well as the tragedies in Russia in the early part of the 20th century. This project was completed in the fall of 1994. A new iconostasis was made to compliment the iconography and was installed in 1995.
St. Nicholas Cathedral has had the great opportunity to administer to all Orthodox Christians since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Church now includes a very active Georgian community and we strive to provide the same administering to all people who wish to participate in the Orthodox Church.
Around the turn of the century, Saint Nicholas expanded its ministries to include Sign Language interpretation of the Liturgy. Currently on the second Sunday of each month, the Liturgy is translated for the hearing impaired and additional services are translated as the interest and need increases.
Publications in PDF format:
Booklet "The National War Memorial Shrine of the Russian Orthodox Church of America"
covering the early history of the parish and building of the Cathedral (in English). 50th anniversary booklet
(in Russian and English).
A 1988 booklet
for the dedication of the Millenium Bell tower (In English).