About the Clark House
A historic view of the exterior of the Clark House
The Clark House was built by Silas M. and Clara Clark during the years of 1869 and 1870. The Clarks were a prominent and well-regarded family in Indiana County history. Silas was a local attorney and later elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and Clara was a housekeeper often at home with their five children.
The site of Clark House has an interesting history. It dates to April 29, 1777, when George Clymer – signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States – acquired the land from the original owner, Samuel Pleasants of Philadelphia. In 1815, Mr. Clymer sold the site to the trustees of the Indiana Academy, the first secondary school in the county. The tract cost the trustees $50.00. John Henry and John Loughry were hired to erect a
stone building, which was completed in 1816. The structure was briefly used as a common school until the Academy opened on June 1, 1818, under the Reverend John Reed, its first principal. Among the students who attended were Harry White, Silas M. Clark, and Matthew Stanley Quay, prominent members of the county. In 1846, a new brick building was erected on the same site by Henry Altman. It was one story with three large Gothic windows. The Academy was an all-boys school until 1858 when it became co-educational, and the name was changed to the Indiana Seminary. On June 22, 1864, the Academy burned due to a fire. The bell survived and hung for some years in the old Brush Valley School and is currently on display. After the fire, the Academy lot was put up for sale, and Mr. Clark purchased the grounds.
The entrance hall as it appeared in the early 1900s.
The entrance hall as it appears today.
During the years after Clark's death in 1891, the home was used and owned by the Clark family heirs. In 1915, his son, J. Woodard Clark, was appointed Clerk of the United States District Court and moved to Pittsburgh. The mansion was then rented to F.M. Fritchman. On January 17, 1917, the Clark heirs sold the mansion to the Indiana County Commissioners for use as a memorial to the soldiers and patriotic organizations of the County. The purchase price was $20,000, of which the Clark heirs contributed $1,000. The mansion later served as a meeting place for several organizations, the office of the Indiana County Tourist Bureau, as a voting site, and as the library for the Historical & Genealogical Society of Indiana County. In 1978, the Clark House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1989, Paul Wass secured a legislative grant of $75,000 for the purpose of acquiring a site or property for the Historical & Genealogical Society of Indiana County. This money was used to purchase the Clark House from the county in 1992.
Today, the Historical & Genealogical Society offers guided tours of the Silas M. Clark House. The home features a restored parlor, a study, and numerous time period pieces. It is also home to many society events including paranormal investigations and the ever-popular Ladies' Tea.
The Clark House as it appears today.