Historic Boston Inc. Completes First Phase Of Clapp House Restoration

Historic Boston Inc. Completes First Phase Of Clapp House Restoration

North Bennet Street School Team Replaces Facade on 1804 Dorchester Home


BOSTON, MA, June 2, 2011 – Historic Boston Incorporated yesterday completed the first phase of restoration on the 1804 Clapp House in Dorchester, celebrating the work of a student carpentry team from the North Bennet Street School of Boston on the historic ? and future ? residence building.

Historic Boston Incorporated employees and students from the North End school, which teaches traditional trades including preservation carpentry, marked the project?s completion with a cookout in the side yard of the stately, restored building yesterday afternoon. The Anna Clapp Harris Smith house, a Federal period home thought to be built on an earlier, 17thcentury foundation, is at 65 Pleasant St. in Boston?s Dorchester neighborhood.

Restoration of the Clapp House, named after a family that built the 1804 house and home of Animal Rescue League Founder Anna Clapp Harris Smith, is the first project of an ongoing collaboration between Historic Boston Inc. and the North Bennet Street School. The team works to repair overlooked historic buildings in Boston while helping North Bennet Street students train in real-world preservation projects.

North Bennet Street students complete a full scope of preservation carpentry projects, and Historic Boston manages the masonry improvements and property acquisitions.

Yesterday, about a dozen students hurried to finish painting old and newly installed clapboards as an evening rainstorm approached. Over the last two years, windows had been replaced with handmade sashes ? 12 panes over 12 ? like the ones shown in a 100-year-old photograph. On a rear portion of the house, which perhaps predates even the main 1804 structure, actual original windows were restored with handmade wood muntins between panes.

?The students did hand-planing and used hand tools,? said Steven O?Shaughnessy, department head for preservation carpentry at the school. ?We teach the same methods that would have built this house.?

The Clapp House project is expected to be completed in 2012 and is intended not only to restore an important historic building but also to provide one and possibly two new residences to the neighborhood. About 40 first- and second-year students have worked on the project.

?Putting a new face on the Clapp House that brings back the handsome look of its valuable past has been a great project for the launch of Historic Boston?s work with the North Bennet Street School,? said Michael Tilford, Senior Acquisition and Development Manager of Preservation Projects for Historic Boston, and Project Manager for the Clapp House. ?We look forward to bringing additional valuable buildings alive for modern use.?

Projects like the Clapp House extend Historic Boston?s mission of preserving at-risk historic buildings and providing North Bennet Street students hands-on carpentry experience. This work has begun the transformation of a worn rooming house into a beautiful home that expresses the rich history and character of Dorchester.

Historic Boston Incorporated is a nonprofit organization that works with local partners to invest in historically significant buildings and improve neighborhoods.

Over the past 50 years, Historic Boston, which was founded in 1960 to save the iconic Old Corner Bookstore Buildings in Downtown Crossing, has developed an impressive track record of saving and restoring historically significant buildings that for-profit developers have found financially infeasible. Historic Boston?s investments in these historic places have contributed to the revitalization of many of Boston?s neighborhoods.

To date, restoration of the Clapp House has involved not only new windows and sills but also foundation reconstruction and chimney rebuilding. North Bennet Street?s students removed shingles to reveal original clapboards, repaired the historic clapboards before painting it with a primer, and reconstructed a door.

In the summer, North Bennet Street and Historic Boston will team up to repair the house?s roof structure.

Kate Gehlke, a graduate student in preservation studies at Boston University, specializing in historic multi-family housing, closely examined the old building to determine how it had evolved over 200-plus years.

Researching the building for Historic Boston Incorporated, Gehlke concluded that written accounts that the current building was on an earlier foundation were accurate. ?There is evidence that there was once a hall-and-parlor plan house with a center chimney on this site,? she wrote.

Unlike the current house, this earlier house faced south, a typical configuration at the time, to capture as much heat from the sun as possible during the day,? Gehlke determined. ?It was likely built as a one story house with a second story added at later time.?

The newer, 1804 house that exists today was built to face Pleasant Street, initially featuring an L-shaped plan with a symmetrical front fa?ade and a rear portion. Several later additions were made beginning in the middle of the 19th Century.

While working on the Clapp House, North Bennet Street School students found a small ramped area in the basement, which they believe was also evidence of a cellar from an earlier structure, probably used for food storage. The original Clapp house burned down in at the turn of the 19th century and a large portion of the house that now exists was built on top of the earlier foundation.


Historic Boston Incorporated is a nonprofit organization that works with local partners to identify and invest in the redevelopment of historically significant buildings and cultural resources in order to catalyze neighborhood renewal. Historic Boston projects benefit from a full menu of high quality support including technical expertise, site acquisition, project financing and access to local, state and federal resources. Historic Boston Incorporated offices are at the Old Corner Bookstore Building, 3 Schools St., in Boston. For more information, please go to www.historicboston.org.


Kathy Kottaridis, Executive Director
Historic Boston Incorporated

Tom Palmer
Tom Palmer Communication