Historic Building of the Week: 32 State Street

If, like me, you tried to find parking for the Sustainable Marblehead event at State Street Landing this weekend and had to park halfway across town, you may have walked past this house.

In 1727, Samuel Nichols, a bricklayer from Reading, bought a parcel of land on what is now State Street. Around 1730, he built the house that is now at 32 State St. However, it is unconfirmed whether or not Nichols ever lived there – or in Marblehead at all. In 1741, Nichols sold the house to Samuel Hooper and his wife, Eunice. 

According to the records in the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS), Hooper worked as a coaster, sailing down to the southern American colonies on a sloop called Diamond. The record states that in 1747, colonial Massachusetts Gov. William Shirley asked Hooper to deliver letters to Nova Scotia. 

Allegedly, on his way back to Massachusetts he was asked to spy on the French, who then captured his boat and imprisoned him. After reading Hooper’s orders, the French suspected the British to be near and fled. The British then captured the boat on which Hooper was imprisoned, after which he wound up in the West Indies. Hooper was lost at sea while returning home.

A legal dispute ensued, as Hooper’s son Capt. Samuel Hooper fought to gain the title to the house. He eventually received the title in 1760, and lived at 32 State St. with his mother and his wife, Lois.

Capt. Hooper was a world traveler like his father, sailing to places like the West Indies and Spain. But he was also busy back ashore. According to MACRIS, he was a fire ward, assessor, selectman, and a director for a lottery for the poor. 

After his death, Lois sold the house to mariner Capt. Ebenezer Evans. The MACRIS record states, “Tradition says [Evans’ wife] also ran a grog shop and still in that cellar room. A well was discovered under the floor of the cellar when there was a fire in that part of the house in 1967.” Later owners included heirs of Mary Evans Gale in 1888 and Jas. C. Buzzell in 1912. Ned Fish remodeled and restored the house in 1960.

Next time you’re heading to the landing – or anywhere else in town – and you have to park far away, perhaps you’ll find a historic house that catches your eye.