Washington National Cathedral has been the location of funeral and memorial services for nearly all the 21 U.S. presidents since Congress approved the Cathedral’s charter in 1893.

The Cathedral has hosted three State Funerals (Eisenhower, Reagan, Ford), one official burial service (Wilson), and seven presidential Memorial Services. Additionally, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington officiated at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s funeral, which was held in the East Room of the White House.

Presidential Funerals

  • 1901

    President William 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 on Capitol Hill, at which the Rt. Rev. Henry Yates Satterlee, first Episcopal bishop of Washington, gave the memorial address.

  • 1919

    The official Washington funeral service for President Theodore Roosevelt was held under the auspices of the YMCA. There were no Cathedral services.

  • 1923

    On August 6, 1923, a service of commemoration was held for President Warren G. Harding during the 11:00 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 August 10, 1923. Bishop Freeman officiated, and music was presented by a choir of men and women, and the United States Army Band.

  • 1924

    On February 6, 1924, the funeral service for President 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 home to Bethlehem Chapel at the Cathedral. Bishop Freeman conducted the formal burial rites in Bethlehem Chapel for immediate family members. In 1961, Dean Francis Sayre Jr. -- President Wilson’s grandson -- conducted the funeral for former First Lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson. This is the only funeral of a first lady to be held at the Cathedral. Mrs. Wilson is interred with her husband in the Wilson Bay in Washington National Cathedral.

  • 1930

    On February 27, 1930, a prayer service on behalf of the ailing former President William Howard Taft and 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. This service was broadcast live nationwide on March 11, 1930 during the funeral procession from All Souls’ Unitarian Church to Arlington National Cemetery.

  • 1933

    A Memorial Service for President Calvin Coolidge, 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.

  • 1945

    President Franklin D. 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 1,000 friends and family members attended the Memorial Service for former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt held at the Cathedral on November 15, 1962.

  • 1963

    The State Funeral for President John F. Kennedy 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.

  • 1964

    The funeral for President Herbert Hoover was held at  St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City. Afterwards, his body lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. There were no official Cathedral services.

  • 1969

    The State Funeral for President Dwight D. Eisenhower 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.

  • 1973

    The Cathedral held a Memorial Service for President Harry S Truman on January 15, 1973. His State Funeral was held in Independence, Missouri.

  • 1973

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

  • 1994

    A Service of Thanksgiving was held for President Richard M. Nixon on April 27, 1994, the same day his funeral was held at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.

  • 2004

    A State Funeral was held at the Cathedral for President Ronald Reagan on June 11, 2004. Bishops John Bryson Chane and A. Theodore Eastman presided, assisted by former Sen. John Danforth, an Episcopal priest. Readings were offered by Rabbi Harold Kushner, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Tributes were offered by the former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (via videotape), President George H. W. Bush, and President George W. Bush. The bourdon bell tolled 40 times, and the Washington Ringing Society played a half-muffled peal on the Cathedral’s change bells.  

  • 2007

    A State Funeral was held at the Cathedral for President Gerald R. Ford on January 2, 2007. The Cathedral’s Bourdon Bell tolled 38 times in honor of the 38th president. Bishop John Bryson Chane presided with Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III. The homily was preached by the Rev. Dr. Robert Certain of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, California. Readings were offered by President Ford’s children and tributes given by former President George H.W. Bush, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, broadcaster Tom Brokaw and President George W. Bush.  

President Ford's Funeral