Thaddeus Clapp was a descendant of Captain Roger Clapp, who sailed to Massachusetts from England in the mid-1600s. Captain Clapp was instrumental in the founding of Dorchester, and the Clapp family has been immortalized in Dorchester through the Dorchester Historical Society, whose headquarters is the historic William Clapp House (listed on the National Register of Historic Places).
The Clapp family grew to encompass many branches throughout New England, and each branch found a unique way to distinguish themselves. In western Massachusetts, the Clapps ranged from clergy to farmers and even to tavern owners. Thaddeus Clapp I owned a tavern in Easthampton, which he inherited from his father. In addition to being a business owner, Thaddeus Clapp I served as treasurer and justice of the peace for his town. Clapp went on to become a delegate to the Constitutional Convention for the State.
He and his wife, Achsah Parsons, had seven children, including Thaddeus II, who would become Colonel Thaddeus Clapp. Col. Clapp moved to Pittsfield in 1816, and became the superintendent of the Pittsfield Woolen and Cotton Factory. He held this position until the Pontoosuc Woolen Manufacturing Company was formed in 1825; he held the position of superintendent there until 1860.
It was shortly after Col. Clapp’s tenure at the Pontoosuc Woolen Manufacturing Company that the Thaddeus Clapp House on Wendell Avenue was built and purchased. Though Col. Thaddeus Clapp passed away in 1865, his son, Thaddeus Clapp III, continued his legacy.
Wendell Ave., where the Thaddeus Clapp House sits, was home to numerous businessmen in the 1800s and early 1900s. An appropriate home for Pittsfield’s prominent citizens as it was named after Colonel Jacob Wendell and the Wendell family that helped to acquire the land and and form Pittsfield in the 1700s.
Thaddeus Clapp III built upon the Pontoosuc Woolen Manufacturing Company that his father helped to start. Though he did not go to college, Clapp learned about the wool trade from his youngest days, and was taught everything he knew by his father. Clapp was a determined businessman, and ensured that the goods produced always kept with the ever-changing styles and trends of the day.
To ensure that quality was never sacrificed, he exclusively used California wool. Throughout his tenure, Clapp made dozens of trips to California to select the wool himself. Clapp eventually became the president of the Pontoosuc Woolen Manufacturing Company and held that position from 1882 to 1891. His son decided not to take over the company and it was sold to an outside buyer.
Like the mill, the Thaddeus Clapp house passed out of the Clapp family in the early 1900s. The home on Wendell Avenue was sold in 1906 to William Whittlesey, Manager of the Pittsfield Electric Company that supplied electricity to the City of Pittsfield. The Thaddeus Clapp House remained a private residence into the 1930s. Eventually, the home became a boarding house and apartment complex, though it continued to house prominent Pittsfield members, including members of the Francis and Briggs families.
So since the 1930s It has been continually occupied as either apartments or a bed and breakfast since then, with brief breaks for upgrades and renovations along the way. Throughout the years, guests of the bed and breakfast reported seeing the figure of a woman, whom many assume to be Mrs. Clapp, drifting throughout the house.
Feelings of warmth and protectiveness were frequently reported by those who see her. According to an article in Boston Magazine, the holidays bring about a change in the house with rooms seemingly glowing with the spirit of the season. One report from a guest who stayed there near Christmas stated that they witnessed ghostly staff and family preparing for the holiday.
Apparently Clapp Park is also haunted….. Want to learn more? Check out our episode “Spooky Spots in Western Mass” available everywhere podcasts can be found or by clicking HERE.