The Derbys, however, never completed the house. Instead, they moved away from the waterfront to a house in the center of town. The unfinished building was purchased and completed around 1800 by Benjamin Hawkes, who owned a shipyard next to Derby Wharf.
The Hawkes House is a fine example of the large Federal style homes built throughout Salem in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. These three-story tall, square buildings usually featured a beautifully carved and painted entrance and many windows to let light and air into the gracefully decorated rooms.