December 21: Robert Stead (1943)

Robert Stead was an architect, primarily in Washington, D.C. He was born in New York City in 1856, the son of Edward and Matilda Stead. His father was a captain in the 2nd New York regiment during the Civil War. Robert received his education in the public schools of New York City and the College of the City of New York, where he graduated in 1871. After leaving college, he entered the office of William Appleton Potter, to study architecture, remaining there until he accepted a position as draughtsman in the supervising architect’s office of the Treasury Department in Washington. Stead began his own practice in 1884, and was architect for the Metzerott Building, Lovejoy School, Bowen School, and Mt. Vernon Seminary. Most significantly for Epiphany, Stead was architect for the Epiphany Chapel and Mission House in southwest Washington. Stead was instrumental in securing the historic and architecturally significant Octagon House in Washington for the American Institute of Architects, which is used as that organization’s headquarters today.

Robert Stead and Mary Force were married at Epiphany on April 10, 1882. In the previous month, Robert had been baptized (March 7) and confirmed (April 2). The sponsor at his baptism was his future wife. Mary’s family had been Epiphany parishioners since at least the 1850s. She and her two sisters were baptized at the church on May 24, 1858. Robert and Mary had five children, all of which were baptized at Epiphany. Mary died in 1895 and was buried from the church. The couple’s oldest child, William, was married at Epiphany in 1911. Two of Stead’s sons fought in World War I and are listed on the memorial plaque in the vestibule of the church. About a decade after Mary’s death, Robert Stead married Cynthia Force, Mary’s sister. Cynthia Force Stead was very involved in several of Epiphany’s outreach organizations, serving on the boards of the Epiphany Church Home and the Episcopal Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital.

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