Holy Rosary Church at 595 Third Street NW is a historic anchor for D.C.’s small Italian American community. Ministering to the Italian artisans who came to early 20th-century Washington to work on public building projects, Reverend Nicola de Carlo, an immigrant from Avigliano, Italy, established the church in December 1913 with its first Mass at 83 H Street NW. Six years later, the cornerstone for the new church had been blessed, and the church was dedicated in 1923. Reverend de Carlo served as pastor until his retirement in 1960 at the age of 81. You can review di Carlo’s papers at the Center for Immigration Studies of New York here.
Today Holy Rosary still offers Mass in Italian. In the late 1950s and 1960s, urban renewal and plans for I-395 threatened the historic church,but parishioner advocacy saved the building. Though the original Italian immigrant community that lived in Swampoodle, Capitol Hill, and the H Street neighborhood has declined, Holy Rosary and its Casa Italiana, an Italian cultural center, continue to teach and celebrate its rich Italian ancestry.