About Clapps

The Clapps attended St. Stephen Episcopal Church, re-built in 1890 on the north side of Park Square.

By the 1800′s Pittsfield was the center of industry in Berkshire County. The railroad had been built and transported the products of the many textile and paper mills. Besides the many mills, Pittsfield was the location of the Stanley Electric Company. William Stanley invented the first alternating current electrical transformer. His company was bought by the General Electric Company and remained a major employer until end of the 20th Century.

But it was the railroad that opened Pittsfield to the world. Trains brought visitors from all over to the Berkshires. Many of America’s wealthiest families built “cottages” throughout the county, including many in Pittsfield. One of the most well known was “The Court” built for the family which owned the Kimball Piano Company. It became Hillcrest Hospital in 1951.

Susan Eisley, Executive Director of the Berkshire County Historical Society, wrote in Pittsfield, Images of America:

“Pittsfield can be an enigma. The largest and most industrial town in a county that prides itself on being ‘America’s Premier Cultural Resort’, it has a personality that sets it quite apart from other towns. When you look closely, Pittsfield has contributed every bit as much to culture, beauty, grandeur, compassion, invention and humor as any town in the Berkshires. Without the heartbeat of the city, the county would be so much less than the wonderful place it is today.”

Although Mr. Clapp was a respected businessman, his heart was in the arts. “This house in those days was the center of the social life of the community and gained wide fame as such” -The Berkshire Eagle, 1908. The Clapp’s home was designed for entertaining and the couple often held musical performances and poetry and theatrical readings after elaborate dinner parties.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Clapp were noted amateur thespians. Mr. Clapp used the stage name of “Thaddeus Clappertino.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Clapp did not live long enough to attend performances of such famous actors as Sarah Bernhardt and the Barrymores at the Colonial Theatre, which was built in 1903.

Nor did he get to visit the new Berkshire Museum also built in 1903.
The Clapp’s collection of 170 travel books and bound volumes of The Century and Scribner’s magazines were donated to the Pittsfield Athenaeum, which at the time was the largest gift to the library. The Berkshire Athenaeum was built with funds donated by Thomas Allen, grandson of Pittsfield’s famous minister, “The Fighting Rev. Allen”, who was well known for keeping a loaded musket close by during the Revolutionary War. The building housing the athenaeum became the Berkshire County Registry of Deeds after a new library building was built on the land between Wendell Avenue and Bartlett Street in 1967.

Recent Post

Restoration

The restoration of Thaddeus Clapp’s home, a National Registry of Historic Places property, is both a labor of love as well as an commitment to preserve the past. It is also quite a challenge: how to retain the beauty and historical integrity of the original while adding modern conveniences. When the house was built in 1871, it was state of… more