THE HAMMOCK HOUSE

Contemporary Painting by Beaufort artist Mary Warshaw

If this house could talk, it could bring to light and clarify local folklore, as well as the mystery and the hauntedness that have surrounded this structure.
1733 Moseley notes I.Taylor
House owned by Taylor from 1725-1733

A structure in this area, just east of the town of Beaufort, was noted on early maps as the “White House.” With its position on the waterfront and clear view of the inlet, it would have served as a landmark to help guide early mariners. 

Even though local folklore ties this house to Blackbeard and other pirates during its early years, the original "White House" may have been built by Farnifold Green as an outpost. Green, who lived on a 1700-acre plantation north of Neuse River (Clear Springs Plantation or Green's Thoroughfare), had the first land patent, 780 acres on "the south end of the peninsula that extends between North River and Newport River."

Becoming fearful of the events of the Tuscarora War, Green, still on his plantation north of Neuse, assigned his patent to Robert Turner in 1711. In 1714, Green was massacred by Indians. In 1713, Turner received a formal patent and permission from the Lords Proprietors to lay out the town.

Although there is no record showing when the "White House" was built, the earliest owners or proprietors of the Town of Beaufort are said to have owned and lived in the "White House." Robert Turner (1713-1720), Richard Rustull Sr. (1720-1725) and Nathaniel Taylor (1725-1733).
1738 Chart showing "White House"
The "White House" was mentioned in James Winwright's 1744 will. Winwright had acquired the house and land when he purchased the proprietorship of the town from John Pender in 1742.

In 1754, the 100 acres adjoining the eastern boundary of Beaufort, described as "Taylors Old Field" and containing the "White House" property, was sold at public auction from the estate of James Winwright for the sum of £15-10 shillings proclamation money. In 1765 Robert Williams purchased the 25 acres "known by the name White House..." for £15. (Charles Paul) At that time, Williams built a Salt Works on that end of town.

Built sometime during the first quarter of the 18th century (1733 Moseley map), in an isolated and sparsely settled area, the "White House" was most likely a small simple structure, with little or no resemblance to what is known today as the "Hammock House." 
"White House" noted on 1775 Mouzon Map - Click to enlarge
"Looking toward the ocean from the town of Beaufort at the time of the Revolution, there was an unobstructed expanse of water except for one small island designated on maps as Town Marsh and known locally as the 'bunch of bushes.'” (Kell)

Thus, the "White House" was closer to Taylor's Creek and would have had a clear view to the inlet. Dredging of Taylor's Creek, in the early 1900s, piled sand on either side of the creek, thus adding to the mainland and enlarging the barrier islands.

Though there are no early 18th-century records, it stands to reason that the early "White House" may have been "added to" by various owners. Or, a larger house may have been built at a later date, perhaps on the same spot or in the same general area, even re-purposing some of the original structure. 

The oldest-known photograph of the house, circa 1900, shows a dilapidated house but one with an engaged porch, the same form as many Beaufort houses built close to the turn of the century and the first quarter of the 19th century—the 2-story Beaufort-style house. (1815 Duncan House and 1800 Jacob Henry are good examples)

Examination and work on the Hammock House by Maurice Davis, who purchased the house in 1975, revealed it built of Scottish heart pine and cypress, joined together by hand-hewn pegs with a massive pine beam that runs the width of the house. The tall freestanding chimneys, one on each end of the house, were constructed of English paving brick on ballast-stone foundations.

Today the Hammock House is nestled in a neighborhood off Front and Fulford Streets, but still a short distance from the waterfront.

The photograph below was scanned from Beaufort-by-The-Sea Journey Back in Time, The Illustrated Heritage Guide to Beaufort, NC by Rick and Marcie Carroll, published by Fish Towne Press, Beaufort, NC.
Earliest known photo of the Hammock House 
circa early 1900s
In 1980, the Carteret News-Times published the photograph with the following caption:

"This is the Hammock House in Beaufort as it looked early in this century. The photograph belongs to George Huntley Jr., Beaufort. According to Elizabeth Springle, Beaufort, the small house in the background was the home of Augusta 'Gus' Mason and his wife Elvira. Their two sons, Allen and Whitford Mason, were captains in the Coast Guard. They also had a daughter, Ida. The small house, believed to be located on Spring Cut leading into Taylor's Creek, burned many years ago. The spring was a source of drinking water for many residents in the area."

According to Maurice Davis' history of the house, James Mason owned the house from 1875-1891, followed by B.L. Jones from 1891-1907.

Side-by-side comparisons: Early 1900s and 1965