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35 High Street

35 High Street

35 High Street

Michael Clapp House

1831

Have you heard of the five sisters on High Street?  Surprise—they are not ladies but houses: numbers 23, 29, 31, 35, and 39 High Street.  All are white capes built in a straight line and set back approximately the same distance from the street. Just like real-live sisters, they have similar looks on the outside and very different features or personalities on the inside.

35 High Street was built in 1831 by Michael Clapp, Scituate native who is identified in the Hingham genealogy as a bucket maker. In 1824, he had married Hannah Wilder of Hingham, a sister of Crocker Wilder, who  opened Hingham’s first bucket factory in 1845. Presumably it was there that Michael plied his trade; his occupation during his early days in Scituate is unknown.

This was originally a 3-room house: kitchen and parlor on either side of the front door and a mourning/borning room behind. There are no stairs to the second floor in the front of the house. The old kitchen is now a striking dining room with gray walls and white trim and wainscoting.

At some time before 1857, a porch and an addition were added to the west side of the house. From 1878 to 1904 Caleb Stodder, a cobbler, lived in the house. He used half of the addition as a store to meet customers and the other half as his shop to make and repair shoes. For much of the 19th century shoemaking was one of the most common occupations in Hingham. Most shoemakers didn’t make entire shoes, however. Instead they took in piece work from factories in nearby towns. What was once the cobbler shop area is now a kitchen and sitting room.

The house’s unfinished attic offers a clue to the modest means of the original occupants while also providing a good view of the pegged beams and the hand cut dowels used instead of nails. Hingham has hundreds of cape style houses, but very few have survived to this day without the addition of dormers and finished attics.

A most charming feature is a rose-covered archway built by the current owner as an entrance to a large back yard. On the west side of the yard is an old New England barn. The barn’s first floor is most typical with a wooden floor, horse stalls, and trap doors for storing hay in the basement. The second floor, however, is painted, has a ceiling fan, and was used as a bedroom by a couple that owned the house as a summer home.

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35 High Street pictured in the mid-20th century. Photo courtesy of the Hingham Historical Society Collection.

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