A Lost Piece of Brant Point

Beach Plum, longtime residence of the Constable family at 45 Hulbert Avenue since its construction in 1939, was lost to the bulldozer over the weekend. New owners will build a more modern gambrel-style residence in its place.

Beach Plum, c. 1995. Courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.

In the Boston Globe, Pamela Constable reflected how the loss of the home where she spent summers  growing up feels like the true end of childhood.

Back in the 1930s, the Constable family reflected a preservation-minded ethic when they set about to build a new home. They relocated the c. 1920 cottage that had been located at 45 Hulbert, Salt Air, from the waterfront to its present location a few blocks away on Willard Street, where it still stands today.

Salt Air seen from Hulbert Street, 1920s. Courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.
Salt Air seen from Willard Street, 2020

Though Beach Plum may not have won any awards for stylish or elegant architecture, it was a contributing structure to Nantucket’s National Historic Landmark District designation, meaning the building added “to the historic district’s sense of time, place and historic development.” According to the guidelines set forth in Building With Nantucket in Mind, a contributing structure should not be approved for demolition “unless all reasonable measures to save rather than raze” have been taken.

Former site of Beach Plum, 45 Hulbert Street, March 2020.

In a Historic Structures Advisory Board (HSAB) meeting regarding the demolition, Mickey Rowland, HSAB chair and Nantucket Preservation Trust board member said, “We don’t preserve historic houses because of the way they look or because we think we can replace them with more attractive houses. We preserve them because they are a part of our island history and part of the story of the neighborhood.” Beach Plum was not only visible from Hulbert Avenue, but for over 80 years it had overlooked Nantucket Harbor, a part of the streetscape from land and sea. Rather than work with the existing historic fabric of Beach Plum, this historic structure was reduced to rubble.