September 29: Three Significant Events (1896, 1907, 1923)

Three Significant Events (1896, 1907, 1923)On this Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, three significant events related to Epiphany took place over a 27-year period.

Hurricane (1896)

Long before there was a Hurricane Harvey or Irma, “Hurricane #4” ripped through Washington, D.C. on the evening of September 29, 1896. One of the costliest hurricanes ever to strike the United States at the time, the small but intense storm sped northward; its rapid movement allowed it to maintain much of its severity over land. Extremely high winds up to 125 miles per hour accompanied the hurricane. In Washington, D.C., trees were uprooted, communications were severed, and localized violent gusts damaged many buildings. The steeple of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church was completely toppled. Epiphany’s four-tier 1857 tower was weakened and afterwards it was decided to remove the top two wooden tiers.

 Cathedral Cornerstone (1907)

The laying of the cornerstone of the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul took place on Sunday, September 29, 1907. Although it was a diocesan event, Epiphany’s influence was definitely in it. The 1891 meeting, where the decision was made to build the cathedral, was held at the home of parishioner Charles Carroll Glover. Bishop (and former Epiphany rector) William Paret oversaw the creation of the new diocese and the plans for its cathedral. Rector Randolph McKim helped promote the cathedral concept in his roles as an incorporator of the cathedral foundation, an original cathedral trustee, and President of the House of Deputies. McKim began the foundation stone service. Parishioners George Truesdell, Ellen Parke, Margaret Buckingham, and Isabel Freeman contributed significant financial support to get the cathedral started. On the day before, Epiphany hosted the Brotherhood of St. Andrew for their corporate communion service.

 Freeman Consecration (1923)

Eight clergy associated with Epiphany have become bishops, four of whom were rectors. Eighth rector James Edward Freeman was consecrated bishop and became the third bishop of Washington at Epiphany on September 29, 1923. Freeman had only been at Epiphany two and a half years. He combined the talents of a spiritual leader with those of a business executive. After leading a successful national drive to raise money for the cathedral, he was a natural candidate to succeed Bishop Harding after his sudden death. An array of bishops and a score of clergymen high in the offices of the’ Episcopal Church either personally attended Dr. Freeman or occupied places in the chancel during the consecration service. In the congregation were men and women prominent throughout the country. Among them were former President and Mrs. Wilson, Chief Justice Taft and General Pershing.

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