Ward-Hancock House

The report below is from: Early Domestic Architecture in Beaufort, North Carolina - Summer Field Study 2011 - College of William and Mary & Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Dept. of Architectural and Archaeological Research (Klee and Lounsbury). Images are Field Study drawings and photographs. Click images to enlarge. 

The Ward-Hancock House in Beaufort, North Carolina, is a building that has apparently done some traveling. It now rests out of town on a site near the water, and is surrounded by a backdrop of trees and other greenery. As late as 1964, it sat on property near U. S. Highway 70 before it was moved to town. About a year ago, the house was moved again to its present location on land just north of the town near the airport. A date of “c. 1726” is painted on a plaque on the front porch, but it was most likely constructed at a much later date, most probably in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, as the evidence suggests. At its new location, the front of the gambrel-roof building faces the north and rests on concrete blocks. The outer dimensions of the structure are 26’5” in width and 28’10” in depth with a seven-foot deep porch.

Detail of wooden pegs 
in original roof sheathing
Since most of the original plaster has been removed, the frame is exposed. Most of it consists of hewn and pit sawn members although there are some sash-sawn elements. One particularly fascinating feature of the house was the use of woven lath work, indicating economy on behalf of the builder with regard to the use of nails. Wooden cleats were nailed to the sides of vertical framing members with wrought nails. The split lath was then bent around an intermediary stud and the ends wedged into the backside of the cleats. This technique, which is highly unusual, eliminated the need for most lath nails. Another economizing feature was the use of wooden pegs to secure the shingles to the roof laths. 

First Floor
Second Floor
The front door, a raised two-paneled door, opens into a large heated room, with two smaller, unheated rooms located on the side of the house opposite the internal chimney. In 1964, the front door had been located at the end bay of the front fa├žade opposite the chimney and had opened into the smaller, unheated front room, which acted as a lobby entry. Original beaded ceiling joists survive in all three of these rooms, which indicates that they were intended to be viewed and that there was no plaster ceiling. Nails and lath marks on the joists reveal that a plaster ceiling was added at a later date. To the right (in the northwest corner) is a partially enclosed winder staircase with a three-inch mortise for a newel post at the base of the stair. There are wrought nails in the carriage of the staircase, which has sash-sawn treads and risers.

The door casings in the two unheated front ground-floor rooms appear to be from the early twentieth century, and present in both rooms are ghost marks of a five-inch chair board, indicating a modest finish for these spaces. The room closer to the southeast corner of the building had a door that swung into the room. The room in the northeast corner has a window which has been moved approximately nine inches from its original position; it overlooks the front porch where the front door had been in 1964. 

Wooden latch keeper 
2nd floor inner chamber
Directly across from the front entrance on the main floor is a doorway that leads to the shed, which was an integral part of the original construction. There are no nail holes above the shed’s sash-sawn ceiling joists for lath work or weatherboard on the back of the two-story frame. Thus, it has never been an exposed exterior wall. The heavily-braced frame, much of which is termite-damaged, in the shed is similar to the front frame. The right corner of the building has apparently been rebuilt. Ghost marks on the east side of one of the ceiling joists to the west of the door opening indicates the position of a partition that divided the shed into two, uneven sized, unheated rooms. 

On the upper floor, the top of the stairwell opens into a large heated room with an interior chimney and two small unheated rooms opposite the fireplace. The doors to these rooms were originally held by H or HL hinges whose ghost marks can be seen on the jamb of the board partition. All of the flooring on the second floor has been pulled up and reset in new locations without regard to their original positions.

Information below compiled by Mary Warshaw
Ward-Hancock House - Rustulls, Wards and Hancocks

The acreage on which this house was built was first owned by Farnifold Green, followed by Robert Turner and Richard Rustull.
1733 Moseley Map 
"R Rustul" NE of Town
In 1720, Richard Rustull Sr. (1669-1761) purchased 780 acres between the North and Newport Rivers from Robert Turner, who had the patent transferred to him in 1713 by Farnifold Green. 

An approximate 100-acre portion of Rustull's purchase had been laid out in 1713 and named Beaufort. As required by the 1723 act of incorporation, Rustull increased the size of the town to 200 acres. In December, 1725, Richard Rustull sold the 200 acres, which included both the old and new sections of the town, to Nathaniel Taylor of Carteret Precinct for £160 sterling. (Carteret Deed Books) Rustull retained the rest of the 780 acres which he had purchased from Robert Turner five years earlier and continued to live just outside of the town. (Charles Paul, Colonial Beaufort) The acreage retained by Rustull, at that time, amounted to about 580 acres. MORE . . .