The long stalls of the Great Choir stand between the High Altar and the nave. The oak stalls were designed by Cathedral architects and carved by furniture makers Irving & Casson-A.H. Davenport and Company. During the week, the Great Choir provides seating for worshippers, and on Sundays, for the Cathedral Choir.
The stalls feature needlework cushions that represent the various dioceses of the Episcopal Church, and two seats are reserved for the chaplains of the U.S. House and Senate. At the east end, two canopied seats are reserved for the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (the Cathedral is where presiding bishops are installed) and the Bishop of Washington.
The hand-carved armrests feature unique carved images, including Noah’s Ark, Moses in the bulrushes, the Christmas angels and various Christian symbols. Carved during and after World War II, the armrests also feature contemporary elements, such as St. George’s lion (the symbol of Great Britain) devouring a snake whose face is a caricature of Adolf Hitler.
At the heart of the Great Choir sits the console for the Cathedral’s 1938 Skinner pipe organ, a massive instrument composed of nearly 10,000 pipes.