[Photo by Mike McCaffrey]
You may not have heard of Francis Asbury, but he has a prominent spot at the intersection of 16th Street and Mt. Pleasant Street NW. The hat-wearing man on the life-size equestrian statue was one of the first two Methodist bishops in the United States, helping grow the church into what is today the second-largest Protestant group in the country. The nickname carved into the statue's base, Prophet of the Long Road, was given because Asbury traveled an average of 6,000 miles a year from 1771 until his death in 1816, preaching and helping organize the church.
Asbury has been a popular figure among Methodists and is the namesake for Asbury Park, New Jersey, where Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi began their careers. The statue on 16th, surrounded by bushes in a grassy triangle, is in front of the Kenesaw Apartments, built in 1903 (and later home to Baseball Hall of Famer Walter "Big Train" Johnson).
At his speech inaugurating the statue in 1924, by President Calvin Coolidge, said "our government rests upon religion." While Asbury might agree with such a statement, it would likely be more controversial if spoken today.
· Francis Asbury Memorial [Wikipedia]
· Photos of the 1924 Statue Inauguration [Library of Congress]
· All Hidden Memorials [CDC]