Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 6, 2013
112 S. Fulton St.
A phoenix rising from the flames – one way to describe the stabilization of the Fulton-Mock-Blackmer House. This once genteel mansion has remained vacant since being damaged by a fire on December 1, 1984, and is presented as a rehabilitation-in-progress.
John Fulton had this house constructed in the Federal style in 1820. Fulton and his family lived in this house, while the attic provided boarding for ladies attending the early Salisbury Academy. What is known today as the Dr. Josephus Hall House (also on tour), was constructed in a similar design and served as the female academy. The male academy was housed in what would later be known as the Shober House. It was originally located at the west corner of North Fulton and Kerr Streets and relocated around 1919 to face Kerr Street, but was demolished in the 1970s.
By the early 1820s, the Salisbury Academy closed its doors. Fulton died in 1827 and his property passed on to Maxwell Chambers, his step-son, and eventually was purchased by the prominent local merchant, A.J. Mock. It was Mock who replaced most of the narrow, Federal windows with larger ones and added decorative Italianate brackets at the windows and cornice. A large porch with Ionic columns was added by the Mock Family in the first decade of the 20th century.
Stage and film actor Sidney Blackmer, a Salisbury native, purchased the property in April 1931, and remodeled the interior. To his credit, Blackmer was featured in over 175 movie and television roles and countless stage productions. He won the 1950 Tony Award for Best Actor (Drama) for his role in the Broadway play, “Come Back, Little Sheba”. He is probably best known to modern audiences for his role as Roman Castevet in the Academy Award-winning 1968 film “Rosemary’s Baby”. His wife, Suzanne Kaaren Blackmer, was featured in several Three Stooges shorts and starred opposite Bela Lugosi in the 1940 movie “The Devil Bat”. The Blackmers raised their two sons, Brewster and Jonathan, here in Salisbury.
Historic Salisbury Foundation purchased the property in 2012, with goals to stabilize the structure, develop a preservation plan and market the property to a buyer who can complete the rehabilitation. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an important landmark in the West Square Historic District. Despite being damaged by the elements, the Fulton-Mock-Blackmer House still holds many clues to its early history, including original paint, wallpaper and trim. It is our hope that visitors may have the opportunity in the near future to tour the completed rehabilitation.