In 1947 the Church and Center was formed from two congregations which merged in 1930, the First Presbyterian Church of Washington, D.C. and the Covenant Presbyterian Church. Immediately afterward, plans were made to relocate to a larger site where facilities could be expanded, and in 1966, a parcel on Nebraska Avenue was purchased. Harold E. Wagoner, a Philadelphia-based ecclesiastical architect, was commissioned to design the new edifice and grounds, constructed between 1967 and 1969.
The Modernist sanctuary and formal, sunken garden face northwest, with the entire property encircled by an interior drive lined with willow oaks and other mature shade trees. The garden is accessed by two broad stairways edged with stone walls that descend from the drive and a wider set of stairs from Nebraska Avenue. A small topiary garden, planted in a grid and lined with benches, anchors the top of the stairway on the south side. The garden is centered on an elliptical, marble-lined pool with a raised marble cruciform superimposed upon it. Paved paths extend from the pool, connecting to perimeter walkways and passing through an expanse of open lawn. The area is lined with deciduous trees and clipped evergreens. Along the northeast edge of the site, a 173-foot carillon tower soars above the grounds. A masonry columbarium wall with a decorative inscription forms the garden’s southwest edge, mirrored by a similar, smaller wall on the northeast perimeter.