February 26: John Louis Clubb (1875)

Epiphany is known today for its outstanding music. That tradition had its humble beginnings with John Louis Clubb. A native of Maine, Clubb came to Washington as a boy and for many years in the early 19th Century was a member of the U.S. Marine Band. He rose to the rank of fife major and served as such for six years. After leaving the band, Clubb became a messenger for the Secretary of the U.S. Senate. Over time with the additional responsibility to receive, inventory, and distribute stationery supplies, Clubb became the first person to attain the title of Keeper of the Stationery, a position that exists today.

Through his life, Clubb led various church choirs in the District, including Epiphany during its first three years of existence. At the first worship service in January 1842, records indicate, “a choir of mixed voices was directed by ‘Professor’ John L. Clubb, although with the aid of a tuning fork rather than a musical instrument.” For the laying of Epiphany’s cornerstone in August 1843, there was a procession from Apollo Hall, the original meeting location, to the G Street site. Included were a band hired for the occasion and the “ladies and gentlemen composing the Musical Association under the direction of Mr. Clubb.”

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