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About the Hancock House
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The Architecture of the Hancock House
The exterior of the Hancock House is an outstanding example of the early vitrified or " glazed" brickwork used in the tidewater areas of the colonies, for it is patterned with the mellow blue-glazed and red bricksmost often idenified with the Tudor period in England. It was natural that the settlers in Fenwick's colony should follow the building procedures to which they had been accustomed. The type of colonial architecture developed in Salem County was a part of the Culture and was distinctive.
The vitrified bricks were produced from clay containing a quantity of potassium nitrtate. To achieve the glazing it was required that those specific bricks be placed in the kiln next to the fire so that, during the process of "burning' the nitrate could run and create a dark, blue-glazed surface over the end of the brick.
Particularly unique is the gable end of the house for there, just under the peak of the roof, the blue-glazed bricks form the initial "H" idenifying the builder's surname. Directly beneath this to the left and right are the initials "W" (William) and "S" (Sarah,his wife). Under the initials the sparkling, glazed bricks then show the builder's date of 1734. The remainder of the wall is patterned with a vertical zig-zag or herringbone design. The large section on the eastern side of the house, also carries the same herringbone theme. The blue-glazed "header" bricks, both on the front and the back of the house have been laid in Flemish Bond pattern.
Much has been written concerning the durability of the bricks used in building these old houses throughout Salem County(41 to be exact). Their enduring qualityis owed principally to a law passed in March of 1683, when the Wesy Jersey Asembly enacted that the standard size of bricks should be 9.5 incheslong, 4 inches wide and 2.75 inches thick, and be "well and merchantably burnt". They were carefully examined and appraised by two persons appointed by the courts, and, if they found the brick faulty, they were promptly broken and the makers fined by the court. When acceptable the bricks were laid in oyster shell lime and sand mortar.
A Pent roof commonly referred to as a "pent-cave" has been carried across both the front and back of the dwelling.IN the craftmanship of the Hancock Housewe can see the quiet, austere Friend(Quaker)-dominant throoughout the Salem County area- for the Quaker built his doorway with simple and self_respecting trim,without side lights where the busybody might peer within, and with the most minute of entrance steps giving little encouragement to the loiterer. Glass eith hand blown or bull's eyes pane affored light over the front door.
The framing of the houseis of white oak, mortisee and doweled with wooden pins. A native heart pine was used in the original paneled walls, mantels, and wide, random width floor boards.Each room has its own original fireplace. Three of the rooms also have a llittle slip of a window(two panes over two panes) to llight the closeton the side of the chimmney and light is provided to the closet by the authentic, hand carved,decorative grill- so often used in the early Salem County home, but rarely found intact after more than 250 years- set in the paneling over the closet doorin the keeping room
Mary T, Hewitt(2-15-68)
edited James T. Schulte(5-21-03)

History of Hancock House
Built in 1734, the Hancock House is an important link to understanding the History of Salem County, and our nation's struggle for independence. It was the home of a prominent Salem County family and is an excellent example of English Quaker patterned end wall brick houses associated with the lower Delaware Valley and Southwestern New Jersey. It was also the scene of a British led masacre during the revolutionary War.
The story of the Hancock House begins in 1675 when John Fenwick, a lawyer and Quaker from England, arrived in West Jersey(now Salem County). With land purchased two years earlier, he established the first permanent English settlement here, called "Fenwick's Colony" and founded the town of Salem. Eager to populate the area with skilled, industrious individuals, he advertised the area's assets by stating ".....if there be any terrestrial "Canaan" 'tis surely here, where the land flowed with milk and honey."

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