Hammock House has served as a landmark for ships entering Beaufort Harbor since the early 1700's. It is the oldest house in Beaufort.
When the house was built, the waters of Taylor's Creek ran so close that a small boat could be tied up to the front porch. Built of heart pine, some of the original weather-boards still remain. The great free standing chimneys that provide fireplaces in the four front rooms are built on ballast stone foundations. The house is illustrated as an example of West Indies architecture in the book "Colonial Homes of North Carolina" by John V. Allcott.
Early proprietors of the Town of Beaufort lived in the house beginning with Robert Turner, who had the town plotted in 1713, and Nathaniel Taylor, who donated the Old Burying Ground to the town. It probably served as an ordinary or inn and among its guests was Blackbeard, the fiercest pirate of them all. Legend says that one of his many wives stayed at the house with him while his ship was being careened on the beaches. When he put back to sea, he had her hung on one of the live oak trees in the yard and buried there. It is said that her screams can still be heard on moonlight nights.
Another ghost is that of Richard Russell, Jr. who, the way his family tells it, returned from a sea voyage in 1747 and took a slave into the attic to punish him. The slave broke loose and pushed Richard down the steps, breaking his neck. Other stories of ghosts can be found in "The Duel at Hammock House," in Charles Harry Whedbee's book "The Flaming Ship of Ocracoke," and in "Carteret County, Folklore, Facts and Fiction" by Mary and Grayden Paul.
Another reported tragedy occurred on March 23, 1862 when the people in Beaufort woke up to find the Union Army in control. Three Union Officers went to inspect the vacant Hammock House and were never seen again until 1915 when workmen digging near the back porch found their remains.
The house was used by the Union Army during the Civil War including a company of "Buffaloes" or Southerners who joined the Union forces. There followed a long period of vandalism, neglect and general abuse coupled with a belief that the place was haunted.
The present owner has restored the interior so that it looks very much as it did originally.