No. 17 On The Map:
One of the oldest structures still in use on the Cathedral grounds is the Old Baptistery. Designed by architect T. Henry Randall and completed in 1904 under the direction of Bishop Henry Y. Satterlee, the first Episcopal Bishop of Diocese of Washington, it housed the Cathedral’s first baptismal font.
All Hallows Guild began using the building in 1934 to sell herbs from the adjacent herb garden – thereby the christening it “The Herb Cottage”. All Hallows Guild continued to operate a gift shop in the building until September 2011 when a crane working to repair earthquake damage to the Cathedral fell and damaged Baptistry building. The building was renovated in 2014 and is now used as a café.
Outside the Baptistry building a lead plaque contains two spouts that pour water into a sandstone pool below. The pool was originally built in 1934, and designed by Florence Bratenahl – who referred to it as “a moss-covered dipping pool.” The pool, originally lined with lead, was rebuilt with sandstone in 1962, a year after the wall along the Baptistry building (then the Herb Cottage) was substantially completed.
Outside of the Baptistry building a planting bed along Pilgrim Road blooms with spring and summer perennials – including tulips, hibiscus, and coneflowers. Adjacent to Pilgrim Road a stone finial sits on the curved end of the stone wall. The bronze statue of baby Pan that now sits in the Bishop’s Garden (at the entrance to Shadow House) was placed here in 1965 and for decades greeted customers as they entered the Herb Cottage.
Along South Road, just to the east of the Baptistry building, is the Norman Arch entrance to the Bishop’s Garden. The Bishop’s Garden is the most intensively cultivated area on the Cathedral Close.
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