Historic Building of the Week: The Hinckley Building

As old as the buildings in Old Town are, there is one that is not quite as old as the others.

At the corner of Pleasant and Washington (in Old Town across from the Mugford Building, not the intersection near the Three Cod Tavern) stands the Grader Block. But before there was Grader’s Block, there was the Hinckley Building.

The Hinckley Building, also seen spelled Hinkley, stood three stories tall with a hipped roof. From surviving photographs, there was a central chimney. The first floor varied from the second and third, as the windows were not only different styles, but also not in alignment. The second and third-floor windows, while aligned, have different window sashes.

Furthermore, it appears the building had some kind of storefront facing Washington Street. According to “A Souvenir of Marblehead,” around the year 1840 there were “stores kept by George Welnian and George Prime.” The caption also says that the Young Men’s Association and P. B. Laskey also “have done business” in the building.

Nearby the building was “the Granite Post,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Two different sources describe Dr. Whittemore, a practicing physician, leaving his house one night for a sick call and walking directly into the post. The accounts vary, however, on how dire the resulting injuries were. One states that striking the post caused him grave illness and “shortened his days,” while the other simply states that he struck his knee.

In 1870, the town voted to take some of the land upon which the Hinckley Building stood in order to widen Pleasant Street. As a result, the Hinckley Building was torn down in 1870. “The Granite Post” was moved to the town farm after the building was torn down. Only 15 years later in 1885, however, a new building would take its place. 

This building is the one which stands at the corner now, the Grader Block. It is a three-story flat roof building with a rusticated block exterior. According to the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System record, the building was once more elaborately ornamented than at present, with some alterations around 1945. 

In many ways, the Grader Block remains very similar to its past self. It still has first-floor storefronts – not Palmer’s Lunch or the Pool Room from the early 1900s, or Over the Rainbow from the 1970s– but storefronts nonetheless.