Presidential Funerals

Services Following Deaths of American Presidents

The Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (Washington National Cathedral) has been the location of funeral and memorial services for nearly all the 21 presidents of the United States since Congress incorporated the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation in 1893.

There have been three State Funerals (Eisenhower, Reagan, Ford), one official burial service (Wilson), and seven Memorial Services for presidents of the United States. In addition, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington officiated at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s funeral, which was held in the East Room of the White House.

  1. President William McKinley (1901)
    McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901, but lingered until September 14. On September 18, 1901, an official Washington Memorial Service was held at St. Mark’s Pro-Cathedral (pro-tem cathedral) on Capitol Hill, at which the Rt. Rev. Henry Yates Satterlee, first Episcopal bishop of Washington, gave the memorial address.

  2. President Theodore Roosevelt (1919)
    The official Washington service was held under the auspices of the YMCA. No Cathedral services.

  3. President Warren G. Harding (1923)
    On August 6, 1923, a service of commemoration was held during the 11 o’clock service in Bethlehem Chapel and a second memorial service at 4:30 pm.

    An outdoor Memorial Service was held at the Peace Cross on the Cathedral Close on Friday, August 10, 1923. Bishop Freeman officiated, and music was presented by a choir of men and women, and the United States Army Band.

  4. President Woodrow Wilson (1924)
    On February 6, 1924, the funeral service for Woodrow Wilson was conducted at Wilson’s residence on S Street, N.W., by the Rt. Rev. James E. Freeman, third Episcopal Bishop of Washington. This was followed by a military funeral procession from the Wilson house up Massachusetts Avenue to the Way of Peace entrance to Bethlehem Chapel on South Drive. Bishop Freeman conducted the formal burial rites in Bethlehem Chapel before immediate family members.

    In December 1961, the funeral for former First Lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson was conducted by the Very Rev. Francis B. Sayre, Jr., dean of the Cathedral and grandson of Woodrow Wilson. This is the only funeral of a first lady to be held to date at the Cathedral. Mrs. Wilson is interred with her husband in Woodrow Wilson Bay in Washington National Cathedral.

  5. President William Howard Taft (1930)
    On February 27, 1930, a prayer service on behalf of the dying former president and chief justice was broadcast nationwide from the Cathedral.

    Following Taft’s death on March 8, the Rt. Rev. James E. Freeman, third Episcopal Bishop of Washington, officiated at the Cathedral’s Memorial Service for the former president and chief justice of the United States. This service was broadcast live nationwide on March 11, 1930, over CBS from 2:34 to 3:21 pm during the funeral procession from All Souls’ Unitarian Church to Arlington Cemetery, where Taft is interred.

  6. President Calvin Coolidge (1933)
    A Memorial Service, broadcast nationwide on radio, was held at the Cathedral on January 15, 1933. The Service was attended by the Vice President of the United States and the Chief Justice of the United States.

  7. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1945)
    Roosevelt’s funeral service was held in the East Room of the White House on April 15, 1945. The Rt. Rev. Angus Dun, fourth Episcopal Bishop of Washington, conducted the private service. Prayers for the late President were held continuously at the Cathedral from April 12 through April 15, 1945.

    More than 1000 friends and family members attended the Memorial Service for former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt held at the Cathedral on November 15, 1962. Secretary of State Dean Rusk was the principal eulogist. Although the front row of seats were reserved for the White House, they remained vacant.

  8. President John F. Kennedy (1963)
    Kennedy’s State Funeral was held at St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Washington National Cathedral held prayer services immediately after learning of Kennedy’s death, and the Cathedral was kept open through the night for prayer.

  9. President Herbert Hoover (1964)
    Hoover’s funeral took place at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City. Afterwards, his body lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. No Cathedral services.

  10. President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1969)
    Eisenhower’s State Funeral was held at the Cathedral on March 31, 1969. He lay in repose in Bethlehem Chapel from March 29 to March 30 before the funeral procession to the Capitol Rotunda to lie in state.

  11. President Harry S. Truman (1973)
    Truman’s State Funeral was held in Independence, Missouri. A Memorial Service was held at the Cathedral on January 5, 1973, at 11 am.

  12. President Lyndon B. Johnson (1973)
    Johnson’s State Funeral was held at National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C. During the funeral motorcade from National City to Andrews Air Force Base, the Cathedral rang a muffled peal of bells.

  13. President Richard M. Nixon (1994)
    A Service of Thanksgiving was held at the Cathedral on April 27, 1994.

  14. President Ronald W. Reagan (2004)
    Reagan’s State Funeral was held at the Cathedral on Friday, June 11, 2004. Learn more »

  15. President Gerald R. Ford (2007)
    Ford’s State Funeral was held at the Cathedral on Tuesday, January 2, 2007. Learn more »

Parking at the Cathedral

Parking in the Cathedral’s underground garage is free on Sundays for services; parking for concerts and programs is available for an event-parking fee. Learn more about parking options for individuals and groups.