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Preserving and Promoting local history for the former Rideau Township
Log Fence

Other common features of that style included full verandas supported by posts and an emphasis on simple design and great craftsmanship. Humphreys illustrated that point with a photo detailing subtle patterning in the brick work. Interiors were designed for ease of use, with rooms that flowed together.

Barbara speaking on the architectural features of the Clapp House

In the case of the Clapp House, the grounds were also a star attraction. Spring bulbs and a profusion of perennials drew admirers and wedding parties looking for that perfect backdrop. This love of plants was shared with others when Mrs. Johnston Clapp founded the Manotick Horticulture Society in 1930. Humphreys hopes restoring botanical beauty on the grounds of Clapp House will be part of any future use.

Winston Spratt then continued the story by recalling how his grandparents, Mr & Mrs Johnston Clapp built the house. He grew up hearing more house lore from his mother, Mary Clapp Spratt and his Aunt, Dorothy Clapp, the last owner occupant.

Winston was a self-described wild country lad, happy for the occasional sleep-over in Manotick, or milk & cookies at Aunt Dorothy's “drop-in center”.

Spratt's mother told him the 10,000 unique tan bricks imported from Toronto had to be hauled from the train depot in Manotick Station in wagon loads of 300-400 at a time. The finished home consisted of 4 bedrooms and one bath and an attic loft, totally some 1700 square feet. The house boasted three walk-in closets, a rarity for the time. There was a cement cistern with a pump for household use and to irrigate the garden with soft rain water. In 1925 the property taxes were $17.82.

The property originally consisted of 17 acres that extended to the river, but some land was expropriated to construct Dickinson Street, which now connects with Bridge Street. At one time cattle and horses were kept there in a small barn. Winston also recounts he “pulled his share of weeds” in a large vegetable garden.

The March 17th meeting took place in the Carriage Shed just across the street from the Clapp house. Barbara Humphreys and Winston Spratt teamed up to tell the story of that Manotick landmark. From an audience of 38, seven people signed up as new or returning RTHS members.  (Thank you and welcome!)

Winston Spratt, Barbara Humphreys, Mark Jodoin

The Clapp house is the youngest and smallest building in Dickinson Square, on the north-west corner of Clapp Lane and Dickinson Street. The attractive two-story home was built in 1924 and was used as a private residence until recently. It was purchased by the City of Ottawa in 2008, to preserve the historic character of the village core. Most recently, it has served as office space for engineers and contractors working on Manotick's sewer project. Future use of the building will be determined by the Manotick Mill Quarter Community Development Corporation.

But what of the house itself, and those who once lived there? RTHS member Barbara Humphreys is a distinguished retired architect and author of several books, including Legacy in Stone, The Rideau Corridor (1999), in collaboration with photographer Fiona Spalding-Smith.

Humphreys provided a short course on the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, the Prairie School of architecture, and its most famous proponent, Frank Lloyd Wright. This style favoured a low, sprawling structure, which incorporated nature, when possible. Two storey structures typically included heavy horizontal lines with dormers and windows positioned in groups. (Vertical lines were equated with power, horizontal lines with serenity.) Ottawa architect Francis Sullivan, a student of Wright, was the architect for the Clapp House.

The Clapp House, the
Undiscovered Gem of Dickinson Square

Presenters: Barbara Humphreys & Winston Spratt

Article by Lucy Martin