Last night, the Nantucket Select Board voted to uphold an appeal of a large renovation to the cottage at 2 Stone Alley, the historic stable turned dwelling of Eliza Codd (1882-1920), a graduate of MIT and island’s first practicing female architect. The plans for the alterations to the building were approved by the Historic District Commission on November 15, 2022, after a multi-year review process. Beginning in late-2018, the owners of 2 Stone Alley sought to dramatically alter the cottage with a large addition to the rear of the building, going down the line of the alley towards Union Street. Their plans were denied by the HDC in March 2021, and in January 2022 the HDC began anther round of review of new plans by a different architect. Though not as dramatic as the plans rejected by the HDC in 2021, the plans approved in November included an addition with a total square footage of 1,658 square feet, which would have more than doubled the size of the existing cottage, which has a footprint of 556 square feet and total living area of 997 square feet. Many character defining features of the home, including its sun porch, one of Codd’s trademarks, would have been lost, and the streetscape of Stone Alley would have been drastically altered.
The appeal, brought by Ginger Andrews of 1 Stone Alley, argued that the HDC had not adequately considered the individually significant importance of 2 Stone Alley. The entirety of Nantucket is a National Historic Landmark District, and as such, buildings on the island can either be considered non-contributing to the Landmark, which includes buildings less than 50 years old; contributing to the Landmark; or individually significant. 2 Stone Alley had for decades been misidentified as the George Upton House and was listed a contributing property, but recent research confirmed that the building was in fact a 19th century stable converted to a dwelling by Eliza Codd in the early 20th century. The appeal contended that the building should in fact be considered individually significant. Preservation Planner Holly Backus presented the building as individually significant to the HDC, but the HDC commissioners never voted or made any kind of formal finding that 2 Stone Alley either is or is not individually significant.
In their motion upholding the appeal, the Select Board remanded the application back to the HDC for the Commissioners to make a determination of the building’s significance, with the potential to reevaluate the proposed changes to the dwelling based on their finding. We hope the HDC members will recognize that the history embodied in 2 Stone Alley makes the building a significant historic structure and reconsider the appropriateness of such a massive addition on an important dwelling on an iconic, fragile lane.