August 1: Caleb Clapp Willard (1905)

Just a block away from Epiphany today is the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. Although it has gone through numerous changes in management and its physical building over the years, this old Washington institution traces its roots to 1847 when Vermont native Henry A. Willard came to town to take over the old, run-down City Hotel. Several members of Henry’s family joined him in the venture including his youngest brother, 15-year old Caleb Clapp Willard. Henry took Caleb under his wing and taught him the business. The education didn’t fall on deaf ears. Caleb Willard later became the proprietor of the Ebbitt House Hotel and one of the largest real estate holders in the city.

The first record of Caleb Clapp Willard’s connection to Epiphany is the baptism of his two children, Kate and Walter, in 1869. Four years later came Caleb’s baptism, with his confirmation a few weeks after that. In 1874, Caleb’s first wife, Allie, dies and was buried from Epiphany. Caleb’s daughter, Kate, married John C. Boyd at Epiphany in 1887 and the funeral of his son, Walter, took place from the church in 1893. Caleb’s own funeral took place there in 1905. When Epiphany’s parish house was being built in 1910, the rector made an appeal for endowments to furnish and maintain the meeting rooms. Kate Willard Boyd endowed two adjoining rooms on the first floor in memory of her parents. The memorial plaque honoring her father reads, “This room is endowed in memory of Caleb Clapp Willard, for thirty years a devout communicant of the Church of the Epiphany.”

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