Samuel C. Clark Cottage
(Joseph Clapp Cottage)

2009 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA

Daniella Thompson

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007

26 June 2017

Incorporating some Carpenter Gothic traits, the one-and-a-half-story Stick Style house at 2009 Berkeley Way was long thought to have been the home of the Berkeley pioneer Joseph Clapp, who owned the tract of land bearing his name in north-central Berkeley. Popularly known as the Morning Glory House, the historic residence at 2009 Berkeley Way was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in 1979 under the name Joseph Clapp Cottage.

As it turns out, Clapp neither built the house nor owned it, and had never lived in it. Carl McGrew, the next-door neighbor who wrote the landmark application, recorded the construction date as 1876, although the lot on which the house stands was not assessed for improvements until 1887. The house, therefore, could not have been built earlier than 1886, unless it was moved onto this lot from another site.

The cottage retains its vertical board-and-batten cladding and trusses on the gables. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007)

The house’s only connection to Joseph Clapp is its location in the Clapp Tract.

Who was Clapp?

Joseph Lewis Clapp (c. 1828–1886) was a forty-niner born in Norfolk County, Massachusetts. His early years in California were spent in the gold mines of Mariposa County. By 1867, Clapp had moved to Grass Valley, Nevada County, where he owned and operated the Golden Eagle Hotel with his young wife, Mary Jane.

By the mid-1870s, the Clapps were living in Alameda County. Joseph’s voter registration for 1875 listed him as a farmer residing in Oakland. One would assume that he farmed the 15 acres he had acquired in north-central Berkeley. The land extended from Shattuck Avenue to Louisa Street (now Bonita Avenue) and from Berkeley Way to Delaware Street.

The first subdivision map of the Clapp Tract, 1876

In August 1876, the Central Pacific Railroad’s Berkeley Branch opened, running 3.84 miles from Shellmound via Adeline Street to downtown Berkeley. This was the opportunity many a Berkeley landowner had been waiting for. In the fall of that year, Joseph Clapp subdivided the southern half of his land into three blocks whose northern boundary was College Way (now Hearst Avenue).

Clapp’s residence, the first one built on the tract, stood—and still stands, albeit greatly altered—on lot 1 in block 3, on the southwest corner of Hearst Avenue and Milvia Street.

Joseph L. Clapp House, 1904 Milvia Street/1942 Hearst Avenue (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2017)

Early speculation by railroad employees

Clapp sold the first lots in block 2 to two railroad employees from Sacramento. Lot 8 (eventually 2005 Berkeley Way) was acquired by Samuel Clarence Clark, a Maine-born engineer employed by the Central Pacific Railroad. Clark and his wife, who had just moved to Berkeley, and whose residence in the 1878 Berkeley directory was listed on the West side of Shattuck Avenue near Addison Street, moved their house, a two-story Italianate, to Berkeley Way in December of that year, as reported in the Oakland Tribune. That house was first assessed in 1879.

In this 1955 photo, the first Clark house (built c. 1878) at 2005 Berkeley Way is partially visible on the right. (Ormsby Donogh files, BAHA archives)

Lots 9 and 10—the future site of 2009 Berkeley Way—were purchased by George Allen Stoddard, a mechanical engineer and the chief draftsman of the Central Pacific Railroad’s shops in Sacramento. Stoddard appears to have bought these lots as a speculative investment, for he never moved to Berkeley, and his two lots remained unimproved for over a decade.

The Clapp holdings in Thompson & West’s map, 1878. The Clapp House is on lot 1 in block 3, and the Clark Cottage is on lot 9 in block 2.

In 1878, Joseph Clapp still owned all but one lot in block 1, including the only building on the block, assessed at $2,400. That building was Clapp’s Hall, which served as a meeting place for the Town Trustees, various social clubs and fraternal lodges, church services, and even school classes. Beginning in 1880, Clapp began listing himself in the city directory as a real estate dealer. About the same time, carpenter Ira A. Boynton built himself a new house on a parcel acquired from Clapp. Located on the southeast corner of Henry Street and College Way, it was the second building erected on block 1 of the Clapp Tract.

In 1886, Joseph Clapp committed suicide under bizarre circumstances involving his wife and his best friend, Dr. William L. Twichell, both of whom also died the same year.

Evolution of the Clark Cottage

In 1887, the year following Clapp’s death, Lot 9 in Block 2 was assessed on improvements for the first time. Samuel C. Clark was now the owner of both Lot 8 and Lot 9. Assessment records indicate that the Clarks had moved out of their larger Italianate house next door and into the new cottage. But their residence in the cottage was brief. By 1888, Samuel Clark was registered to vote as an Oakland resident.

The eastern two-thirds of the former Clapp land in 1894 (Sanborn fire insurance map)

About 1889, the Clarks sold their Italianate house at 2005 Berkeley Way to Mrs. Mary J. Bradley but kept the cottage at 2009 Berkeley Way. In 1891, the deed to the cottage passed to Naomi Clark. She sold the cottage in 1895 to Swedish-born shoemaker Lars Nelson and his wife, Annie. The Nelsons remained until 1902, whereupon the cottage changed hands twice more before landing in the hands of former Berkeley town marshal and retired contractor Carlos Reuben Lord (1832–1914) and his wife, Lucia, who also acquired the flanking lots 8 and 10, making their home in the two-story Italianate at 2005 Berkeley Way.

Following Carlos Lord’s death, his widow moved into the Clark Cottage, where she was listed in the 1918 city directory. By 1920, the owner was Spanish-born teacher Teodoro Santiago Romero, who took out building permit #9344 to convert the house into two units.

Clark Cottage in the 1970s (BAHA calendar, 1978)

By the mid-20th century, the Clark Cottage had fallen on hard times. Since 1930, its owner had been Richard Charles Moore (1897–1981), a reclusive cement contractor who was born and lived for most of his life in his parents’ house, which was located almost directly behind the Clark Cottage, facing Hearst Avenue. Overgrown with morning glory vines, the cottage gained the moniker Morning Glory House.

In March 1979, when the Clark Cottage was surveyed, BAHA’s staff historian Betty Marvin described it in the State Historic Inventory form:

1-1/2 story mid-Victorian Stick/Gothic cottage, overgrown & weatherbeaten & surrounded by city parking lot & big modern concrete-block apartment buildings. Upper story a T shape of steep gables facing to front & both sides, & a smaller gable over front porch. Pair of stick-framed tall windows in front gable, single ones on sides. All gables are board-&-batten (forming scallops at the bottom of the porch gable), with crossbar & pendant at the top, bargeboards that curve in at the bottom, & jigsawed brackets at the corners. [...] Front corners of house completely overgrown with morning glories; city inspection report (1968) “place will eventually disappear under foliage and collapse.”

It has been speculated that Ira A. Boynton, who lived close by, may have been the builder of the Clark Cottage. In May 1884, Boynton was reported in the California Architect & Building News to have constructed a one-and-a-half-story house for S.C. Clark. S.C. Clark was assessed the following year for a building on the south side of Berkeley Way, toward Shattuck Avenue, on a lot that is now part of the municipal parking lot. However, no documentation has emerged to connect Boynton directly with the Stick Style cottage at 2009 Berkeley Way.

The rehabilitated Clark Cottage in the early 1990s (Berkeley Voice, 16 April 1992)

In 1989, the Clark Cottage was purchased by an artist, who restored it to its former beauty.

Stick Style buildings, with or without Gothic elements, are extremely rare in Berkeley. Although not the oldest building in the Clapp Tract (that distinction is reserved for the Clapp House at 1904 Bonita Street), the Clark Cottage is certainly one of the best-preserved Victorians in the tract, and the only single-family house remaining on the stretch of Berkeley Way between Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street.

While the Clapp cottage remains the only house on its block, a fine one-story Italianate cottage stands at 1912 Henry Street, and a row of six pre-1894 Victorians survives on the north side of the 2000 block of Hearst Avenue.

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007


The Samuel C. Clark Cottage was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on 16 July 1979 as the Joseph Clapp Cottage. It is listed in the California State Historic Resources Inventory.



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