Reflections of Arcata's History: The Chapman House

lithograph chapman house.jpg

The Chapman House

Reflections of Arcata’s History: Eighty Years of Architecture

by Susie Van Kirk, January 197

Construction Date: Side cottage, 1874; main house, 1876
Address 974 10 th Street, Arcata, CA 95521
Location: Block 209- AP#21-142- 15
Original Owner: H.S. Daniels
Interim Owners: Thomas Bair (1880); Elizabeth Burroughs Chapman (1883); Edward Huntington
Chapman and Juliette Chapman Cropley (1923); Juliette Chapman Cropley (1951).
Present Owner: Doris Elizabeth Cropley Richey, granddaughter of Elizabeth and John Chapman (1961).

the finest there is in this section and probably there is no dwelling in the country that will compare with it in appearance.
— 1876 Humboldt Times

1 ½ story Italianate with truncated hip roof and front pediment; recessed entry with
transom; pillared, flat-roof stoop; paired slant bays with bracketed cornice and colonnettes; house cornice with brackets, dentils, and decorative detail; side cottage with veranda; sits above street level; concrete retaining wall; plantings, trees, and old orchard.

The Chapmen House is basically Italianate architecture with bracketed bays, colonnettes, and a
truncated hip roof which once supported a captain’s walk. At the time of its construction in 1876, the editor of the Humboldt Times called it “the finest there is in this section and probably there is no dwelling in the country that will compare with it in appearance.” Truly something unique during a period of classic-style architecture, the house has survived the intervening years with little alteration and looks much as it did in Elliott’s 1882 lithograph of the Thomas Bair residence.

Seven years after construction, the house was purchased by Elizabeth Burroughs Chapman, a native of Port Orford, Oregon, who was married to John Grinnell Chapman, II in 1872. Mr. Chapman, born in New York in 1832, was a California forty-niner who, unlike most forty-niners, continued an association with mining until his retirement in 1901. Coming to Humboldt County in 1852, he opened a mercantile store on the Salmon River and ran a pack train between Union and the mining districts. In the early 1870’s he became superintendent of the Gold Bluff Beach. The Chapmans had four children: Edward H., Elizabeth, John G., and Juliette, whose daughter, Doris Elizabeth Richey, and her husband, Roy, presently occupy the family home.

Julianne Eagle