No 18698 Lemuel Clap House or Roger Clap House, photograph November 18, 2018
Report prepared 1974.
[Note: this reproduction of the information in the National Register Nomination Form may have typographical errors; therefore for technical matters the reader may want to consult a copy of the original, which is available at the Boston Landmarks Commission or the Dorchester Historical Society.]
The “Roger” Clap House and William Clapp House (with two out-buildings), situated at the northern corner of Boston and Enterprise Streets, stand on a rectangular plot of land approximately 266 feet along Boston Street and 144 feet along Enterprise Street.
(1) The “Roger” Clap House is a two-storey, wood-frame, gambrel-roof building. The plan is that of an L. The main part of the building facing SE (to Boston Street) is five bays wide by one bay deep and the left rear ell facing SW (to Enterprise Street) is three bays wide by one bay deep. A one-storey, gable-roof service addition forms a continuation of the ell. The building contains two brick chimneys, one situated at the right rear of the main part of the building, the other located in the center of the ell. The roof is asphalt shingle. The roof trim of the SE and SW elevations is a boxed cornice and decorated frieze. The raking trim consists of a fascia board. The remainder of the roof is a projecting eave with no trim. There are full wooden gutters and downspouts (added sometime after 1935).
The SE and SW elevations and the NE elevation of the main part of the building are covered with clapboard while the remaining elevations are covered with wood shingles (the shingles replacing earlier clapboard sometime after 1935). The windows, with the exception of a six-pane fixed window in the NE attic, are sash type. Three of the earlier twelve over twelve pane arrangements remain in the center and right second storey of the SE elevation and one in the first floor NW elevation of the ell. The remaining windows have six over six pane arrangement with the exception of an earlier eight over eight pane sash in the NW attic. The lower storey of the SE and SW elevations has sloped-hood lintels and decorated lugsills. The upper storey has decorated lintels and slipsills. The six-paneled (the tow top panels are glazed) central door of the SE elevation has a simple pediment with pilasters while the eight-paneled central door (the two top panels are again glazed) of the SW elevation has a simple pediment.
The building stands on a poured concrete foundation (full basement) having been moved approximately 200 feet south of its original location in 1957.
(2) The William Clapp House is a two-storey, hip-roof building. It has a square plan facing SE (to Boston Street), five bays wide by five bays deep with a later rear two-story, gable-roof, wood-frame, wing and leanto. The main building contains four brick corner chimneys and central gable dormers on the SE and NW elevations. The wing contains a right rear brick chimney. The roof of the main building is slate while that of the wing is asphalt shingle. The roof trim of the main building consists of a boxed cornice and frieze with full wood gutters and metal downspouts. The roof trim of the wing is plain with the exception of wood gutters.
The SW and NW elevations of the main building are common bond brick. The SE and NE elevations and all elevations of the rear wing are clapboard. The windows of the main building are sash type with a six over six pane arrangement. Those of the SE and NE elevations have moulded trim and slipsills while those of the SW and NW elevations have moulded trim and recessed brick slipsills. The SE main entrance is dominated by an open porch and vestibule with double doors containing large translucent upper panels. The SW elevation has central recessed single door and fan light facing a large concrete terrace. The building stands on a stone block foundation( full basement).
(3 & 4) There are two outbuildings connected with the William Clapp House: A large one-storey, gable-roof, wood-frame, rectangular barn with a left side wing and a smaller two-level shed roof structure. An early privy is contained in this shed building.
Statement of Significance
(1) The “Roger” Clap and William Clapp Houses are illustrative of the mid-18th and early-19th century architecture in Dorchester.
The oldest portions of the “Roger” Clap House, traditionally held to be the 17th home of this prominent townsman, probably date from the first quarter of the 18th century. [and therefore the house could not have belonged to Roger]. The Colonial style building that now stands was essentially constructed in 1765 for Captain Lemuel Clapp (a descendent of Roger’s cousin) by Samuel Pierce. Lemuel Clapp was a tanner by trade: his tanyard was located on the opposite corner of Willow court. Lemuel also served as a Captain during the Revolutionary War, and in the early part of the War some of his men were quartered in this house. In 1819 with the death of Lemuel, two unmarried daughters continued to live in the house. In 1872 the last surviving daughter died and the house fell to tenancy until it was acquired by the Dorchester Historical Society in 1946. In 1957 due to property taxes, the building was moved from its original foundations to its present site. Harry Gulesian (the architect who executed the HABS drawings of the house in 1935) was contracted to supervise and provide plans for the relocation. The contracts specified that as much of the existing fabric as possible be saved including chimneys and chimney foundations.
(2) William Clapp (son of Captain Lemuel) followed in the business of his father and operated the tanyard, in later years devoting his attention to the surrounding farm. His Federal style house was built in 1806 by the housewright, Samuel Everett. Most of the original interior of the main building exists. The Greek Revival rear wing and bracketed Italianate open porch and vestibule are later additions. Three sons of William Clapp (Thaddeus, Lemuel, and Frederick) continued to operate the farm and were successful in developing many varieties of pears. The most notable was Clapp’s Favorite, developed in 1849 and marketed by 1860, a variety which remains in wide commercial use. The house continued to be occupied by the descendants of William Clapp until it was acquired the Dorchester Historical Society in 1946.
In 1870 with the annexation of Dorchester to the city of Boston, the character of the area radically changed. Much of the farmland was sold over the years for house lots. The complex presently lies in the middle of a densely-populated, mixed-use urban area.
Ebenezer Clapp. The Clapp Memorial (David Clapp & Son, 1876)
William D. Orcutt. Good Old Dorchester (3rd ed.) (The Plimpton Press, 1916)
Frederick Clapp, unpublished diary, Archives, Dorchester Historical Society
Samuel Pierce, unpublished diary, photocopy, library, Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities
William Clapp, unpublished papers, Archives, Dorchester Historical Society