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Pre-1894 homes remain in an 1878 subdivision near downtown

Susan Cerny
Saturday December 08, 2001

The house in the 1992 photograph was built around 1876 for Joseph Clapp, a farmer who arrived in Berkeley in the mid-1870s from Norwood, Mass.  

According to the 1878 Thompson and West Historic Atlas, Clapp and his wife, Mary, owned about 15 acres bordered by what is now Berkeley Way and Delaware Street, Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street. When the Berkeley branch line of the Southern Pacific Railroad was extended to Vine Street in 1878, Joseph Clapp was among the many farmers who subdivided their land into building lots.  

In 1880 Clapp opened a real estate office on the corner of Milvia Street and Hearst Avenue. 

The Joseph Clapp Cottage is popularly known as Morning Glory House because it was once covered with morning glory vines. It is one of the few surviving Gothic Revival Victorians in Berkeley and is clad in vertical board-and-batten siding and features steeply-pitched intersecting gabled roofs. Its style is similar to those popularized by the book “The Architecture of Country Houses” by Andrew Jackson Downing in 1850. It was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in 1977. 

The Sanborn Map of 1894 shows the footprints of buildings that were standing at that time in Joseph Clapp’s subdivision, and today 11 houses are still standing there.  

While the Clapp cottage remains the only house on its block, there is a row of eight, pre-1894 houses on the north side of the 2000 block of Hearst Avenue in close-to-original condition. Behind 2034 Hearst there is the recently discovered base of a windmill tower, bringing the number of known windmill structure remnants in Berkeley to five.  


Susan Cerny is author of “Berkeley Landmarks” and writes Berkeley Observed in conjunction with the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.