Wesley Clover had a dream. The Santa Monica native and his wife, Marion, made Exeter their home in the 1980’s. His dream was to turn an old house into an historic landmark.
When Clover realized he would not live long enough to see this vision come true, he turned to friends for help. Now, less than one year after Clover’s death, the dream became a realty with the opening of The Clover House on North E Street in Exeter.
The two-storey Clover House, named for the Clovers, is a museum of sorts now available for weddings and other events, and is home to the Kirksey family.
Tricia Kirksey, a local realtor with whom Clover worked, and her husband, Charlie, purchased the 107-year-old house from the Clovers. It was agreed that they would return the house to as close to its original architecture as possible and that it would be available for the public to see. It was agreed that it would be named in honor of the Clovers.
“Wes Clover was a dear friend of mine,” Kirksey said while giving a tour of the home during an open house. “He bought this house nine years ago for someone to redo.”
The house was originally built by the local railroad in 1908 for Jonathan Grant Kirkman, the descendants of whom still live in the area. In fact, the house is close to the tracks still used by the locally-based, San Joaquin Railroad today.
There was an idea that a local forge company would rebuild the house as a dormitory for those who attended the company’s forging school. But that never materialized. A couple of different organizations, including a temporary children’s home and a home for battered women and their children, were either going to purchase or rent the house with the intent to remodel it, but those didn’t pan out in the long run either.
The Kirkseys and Clover spent much time talking about the house and its history.
When the Kirkseys purchased the home, Clover, a contractor by profession, along with the couple’s son, did most of the work themselves and restored everything possible. The foundation is the original stone. Much of the wood structure is original and, in fact, bears the Exeter Lumber name, along with that of Kirkman on it. There is original wood flooring, although carpet has been laid in the bedrooms for comfort. Some of the kitchen and much of the dining area cabinetry are original.
The Kirkseys consulted everyone they could find in bringing the house back to its original condition. Tricia Kirksey also searched–and continues to do so–for local antiques furnishings for the home and yards.
One puzzlement though is a name or word written on the front of the home. It appears to say “COSBLETON,” and the Kirkseys have not been able to find out the meaning behind it. And while it has been painted, it still stands out and they continue to seek help with this issue.
While much of the Clover House is available to the public when open for an event, there are a few rooms which the Kirksey family keeps private. There are shared rooms including the living room and kitchen, which the Kirkseys use, but may also be available during an event. And there are many rooms designed for special events, mostly weddings.
The Bride’s Room is on the second floor with a screened porch attached so the bride and her court can see into the backyard, where a wedding would be held. The Groom’s Room is downstairs with a big-screen television and men’s bathroom.
While there were no zoning changes, some changes needed to be made to bring it compliant with current laws, including providing a small parking lot with disability parking.
The home and estate can accommodate a wedding of 200 or more, Trisha Kirksey said. Parking is available in the lot, on the street and in a city lot around the corner.
“Wes had a vision for this house,” she said. “He wanted it brought back to its historic state and he wanted to have people come and see it.”
It has been brought back and people are coming to see it.
For more information on the Clover House, visit www.thecloverhouseexeterca.com.