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Historic Building of the Week: Ebenezer Hawkes House

Sometimes, even after renovations and updates, historic buildings maintain a subtle sign of the past. With brick buildings, this can be a scar, or a patch of bricks that appear just slightly different from the rest of the wall. For the Ebenezer Hawkes House, at 14-16 High St., this nod to times long gone is in the windows.

The building known historically as the Ebenezer Hawkes House has two windows on the second floor above the street-facing door that seem, at first glance, uncomfortably close together. In fact, they are touching each other. If you saw this and thought perhaps this house was once two different residences, you would be correct.

According to materials from the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS), Ebenezer Hawkes purchased a piece of land in 1746. After its previous owner, John Oulton, was threatened with debtor’s prison by Benjamin Browne of Salem, he and James Bowden of Boston sold off the collateral, including the alley that became the land Hawkes built his house on.

This house was not 14-16 High St. Rather it was at the site of the Pitman Hay Loft. When Hawkes sold this property in 1752 to Capt. Thomas Dinsmore, he also gave him access to “the old well at the back of my new house.” This “new house” was 14-16 High St., according to the MACRIS records.

In 1764, Hawkes sold his house to two people, Gideon Phillips, a sailmaker, and Diamond Fettyplace, a fisherman, who divided the building down the center. In 1772, after Fettyplace’s death, his wife “set off” the rights according to a Deed of Partition. This section, 16 High St., was eventually sold to the Dennis family and for many years was passed down through generations. 14 High St. also passed through many hands, and both sides underwent alterations.

In spite of the changing ownеrship, division, and alterations, the Ebenezer Hawkes House maintains a hint of history.