| William Clapp House (1806)
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195 Boston Street
Dorchester, MA 02125
William Clapp, son of Capt. Lemuel and Rebecca (Dexter) Clap, was born in Dorchester, March 3, 1779, died Feb. 29, 1860. He followed the business of his father, and established and carried on, till near the close of his life, the large and well-known tan-yard on the corner of what is now Boston Street and Willow Court, for many years the largest tannery in Dorchester. He built a house in 1806 at the time of his marriage on the opposite corner of the Court (north from the tan-yard and a few rods east of his father's), now the headquarters of the Dorchester Historical Society.
Later in life, he devoted his time to his large farm, situated in the north part of the town, adjoining Boston, and well known to the passers by for its systematic cultivation and its horticultural fertility. He was successful in developing many varieties of pears. The most notable was Clapp's Favorite, developed in 1820 and marketed by 1860, a variety which remains in wide commercial use today. He married, Dec. 15, 1806, Elizabeth, daughter of Deacon James Humphreys, of Dorchester, who was born Feb. 22, 1783, and died Oct. 4, 1869.
Mr. Clapp filled important offices in the town and was two years a Representative to the General Court; was also Captain of the Military Company in Dorchester for some years. The death of three of his children in 1837, in the space of four days, by typhus fever, at the ages of 17, 19 and 21 years, was a very afflicting event to the parents, but was borne with Christian resignation. The whole family were sick at the same time, and the result of other cases was for a time doubtful. Two of the victims of this terrible epidemic were buried in one day. Mr. Clapp left a large landed estate in the north part of Dorchester and in South Boston. A sermon on his life and character was preached by Rev. Nathaniel Hall, minister of the First Parish, March 4, 1860.
The House serves as the headquarters of the Dorchester Historical Society and as the site of its meetings. Many of the rooms are furnished with objects from the 19th century and from Dorchester's history. The House includes an original cellar kitchen with cooking implements of earlier years. The William Clapp House provides space for the Society's library and for a large collection of Dorchester Pottery.
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Created: August 14, 2004 Modified: August 14, 2004