|The Front of the Hammock House|
|The Hammock House looking northeast.|
Blackbeard headquartered out of what was shown on ancient maps as the "white house" which was located on what is now Taylor's creek, overlooking the inlet to the Atlantic Ocean at Beaufort. After nearly 300 years, things have changed. Today the house is known as the Hammock House, and the the house is over 500 feet from water due to build up and filling in over the centuries.
The Hammock House, oldest home in Beaufort dates back to approximately 1700 and has been used for a variety of purposes during its nearly 300 year history. It has had 31 owners who held it for periods varying from less than one year to over 21, the average possession being a little over 9 years. It is probable that it was originally built as an "ordinary", or inn - the owners hoping to profit from sea or land travelers overnight needs. But it's been used, also, as a home, a residence for Union soldiers, a summer house and a school.
The name comes from the fact that the house was built on a "hammock", a "fertile raised area." Because its' two stories made it visible from considerable distance and it occupied land at the entry to the inlet, it served as a shipping landmark until the late 18th century. Originally Taylor's Creek came up to the front lawn of the house and one could paddle up to the area in a small boat and dock.
There are many legends and stories connected with the house. Some people have believed it to be haunted and it is told that Blackbeard stayed here for a while with an 18 year old French common-law wife who was not a willing occupant. The pirate got so angry with her that he hanged her on an oak tree in the back yard when he departed. Some people say her screams can be heard to this day when conditions are just right. (A scale model of Blackbeard's sloop, "Adventurer", commissioned by the owners and created by Harkers Island boat builder and model makes, James Allen Rose, is on display in the Hammock House today.)
Another tale frequently told has to do with one Richard Russell, Jr., who, upon his return from a sea voyage decided to take a slave up into the Hammock House attic to punish him. The slave overpowered Russell and pushed him down the stairs, breaking his neck..
Another story has it that a British Navy Captain, engaged to a Beaufort women, upon arriving in town mistakenly thought that his fiancee has been untrue and killed her alleged lover in the upper area of the house; traces of the victim's blood can be detected on the treads of the steps.
During the Civil War Union officers were quartered in the house. Three of them set out for the building and were never seen again. In 1915 workmen digging near the back porch found their remains. Recently, during renovations, a human scapula bone was uncovered.
So many tragic stories were associated with the house that many citizens became uneasy. Was it really haunted? Could it be that the voices of all these unfortunates can be heard from time to time? This may account for the years of neglect, abuse and vandalism to which the Hammock House fell victim.
|The Hammock House before renovations about 1965|
The late Maurice Davis is credited with rescuing the structure from destruction as well as doing considerable research culminating in his book, The History of the Hammock House.
Since so many years have passed, the use to which the house has been put has varied, necessitating changes. Originally, the kitchen and the eating area were in separate structures to reduce the possibility of fire. The double front porch, typical of Bahaman style architecture which clearly dominated the house, originally ran only half way across the front.
Sturdily built of Scottish Heart Pine and joined together by hand-hewn pegs, the house has withstood nearly three centuries of occupancy as well as neglect. An example of the strength of construction may be seen in the massive pine beam which runs the width of the house; it consists of two pieces and measure 4 by 16 inches. The present owners have illuminated and left exposed some fine examples of early construction techniques.
Tall matching chimneys at each end of the house are free standing and made of English paving brick on ballast stone foundations. Undoubtedly built by men used to construction ships, it was crafted to endure - with secondary attention being paid to its appearance. Therefore, its exterior does not match many old plantations and large country homes.
The house is furnished in a beautiful style to match its history, wherever possible. Of course, certain additions have been necessary to make the home comfortable and habitable in accordance with our time. Look for the pine blanket chest dating from 1725' the two pre-Civil War pieces- a pine "sugar" chest and a deacon's bench. In addition, you will find a hundred year old primitive pine school desk from Quebec which complements the antique Windsor chair in the study. Hanging on one wall is a collection of commercially reproduced images of the Hammock House, including a Sears' advertisement, using the house to promote the company's exterior paint!
|The Hammock House after initial repairs in the 1970's and then painted with Weatherbeater paint. It was featured in magazine ads for Sears paint nationwide.|
|Below: an unusual photo of the house in a morning fog||Below: western side of the house in the late 1980's|
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