Jennifer K. Cosham
St. Matthew's Church
5610, Addison Road, Capitol Heights, Prince Georges County
St. Matthew's Church is a small one-story rectangular building laid in Flemish Bond with occasional glazed headers, on a stone foundation and a three-course brick water table. The church is two bays wide by four bays long, and the south side has four 12/12 sash windows with splayed jack arches. On the north side, two of the windows have been obscured by a shed-roofed addition on the west end. The two remaining windows also hold 12/12 sash, but have segmental arches. The two doorways on the east gable end, each with a stained glass transom, have segmental arches, whereas the two bricked-in windows on the west gable end have splayed jack arches. The roofline appears to have been raised to its present steep slope at the time stick decorations were added to the gables. A small round window pierces the gable of each end, in the original shallow-roofed portion of the wall. This is filled with stained glass at the west end, and a louvered vent at the east. St. Matthew's is situated in a large graveyard containing some early stones, the most notable being that of Benjamin Stoddert.
Although St. Matthew's has undergone several alterations, it remains an example of a plain style Anglican Church of the early period. The simple rectangular plan sharing the meeting-house tradition with other Protestant denominations and reflective of early Church of England structures in this country. Similar church edifices are seen at St. George's, Valley Lee, St. Mary's County; and at Durham Church, near Ironsides, Charles County. This plain style was followed by churches of the very elaborate and fashionable Gothic Revival style about a century later. St. Matthew's is also significant for its association with several prominent individuals and families. Benjamin Stoddert, the first Secretary of the Navy, lies buried in the cemetery. Thomas Claggett (Claget), the first Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Maryland, and the first Protestant Episcopal Bishop to be ordained in the United States, visited the chapel on August 13, 1809, noting that construction of the church was "progressing; the walls of a new brick building have been erected, and a roof has been placed over them." The church is also associated with the Pinkney, Dulany, Addison, Lowndes, and Calvert families.