The Academy of the Visitation (65)Connecticut Avenue between L and DeSales Streets, NW
Constructed in 1877, demolished in 1923
The building was done for the Sisters of the Order of the Visitation, an order founded by Saint Francis de Sales with Saint Jeanne de Chantal. In his honor, the street they created to delineate their property was named DeSales, an act emphasizing their dedication to his model of restraint in religious practice and humility. His concern for the sanctification of daily life made the order a logical outreach organization to the laity. School training was a way to transmit the St. Francis de Sales message that all Christians, lay and clergy, could santify their lives through their actions.
Activist Christianity, a religion based on acts rather than meditation and prayer, characterized many of the congregations for which Cluss designed churches. The same approach would have attracted him to Sisters of the Visitation of Mary. For them he designed a three-part, three-story structure accommodating the school and the order in one large structure; a handsome bell tower marked the division between the two. Founded in 1850, and previously located at G and 10th Streets, the Academy was an outgrowth of the Visitation School and Convent in Georgetown. Cluss's daughters Anita and Lillian, attended the Academy in 1877-1880 and performed at musical events.
In 1919 the Visitation sisters moved to a cloistered convent in Bethesda, Maryland.
The Cluss building was demolished in 1923 to make way for the Mayflower Hotel.