Nantucket Preservation Trust annually recognizes individuals and organizations who have undertaken projects that advance the cause of historic preservation on Nantucket. The awards recognize preservation work on historic buildings and landscapes, as well as those who protect and steward island resources.
NPT’s Preservation Awards program is designed to show that a building or landscape can be sensitively updated while maintaining and preserving its historic integrity. In general, the NPT Preservation Awards emphasize proper preservation, showcase the island’s craftspeople, and reveal the foresight of owners who care about our historic structures and landscape.
Congratulations to the 2021 Preservation Award Winners!
The c. 1762 Joseph Swain House at 84 Main Street had been in Whitney Lucks’ family since the late 1990s, but when she and her husband Karl Schneider became the stewards of the house, they undertook a historic rehabilitation of the house to adapt it to the needs of their family while preserving its character defining features and retaining its historic appearance from Main Street and Pine Street. Rather than build a large addition or second dwelling on the property, Lucks and Schneider opted to create more living space within the home’s footprint, transforming the basement and attic from storage space to useful living space. In the attic, walls were restored with lath and haired lime plaster by a team led by Pen Austin, and transom windows were installed between two attic bedrooms to capture and maximize light, while still allowing for privacy. The basement was hand excavated to allow for a greater ceiling height, and a large fireplace with bake oven was restored to working order. Excavation revealed the home’s original brick well, which was left visible, yet covered for safety. The main two levels of living space were also restored and refreshed, with architectural plans designed by Thornewill Designs, carpentry by Michael Gault, painting by Adam Zanelli of Nantucket Heritage Painting, and interior design by Caroline Cole Designs. Throughout the home, historic elements were revealed, restored, and reused, with consistently meticulous craftsmanship and sensitivity to the building and its original rooms and circulation.
Historical Renovation Award
30 Pine Street
Sherry Lefevre, homeowner; Bill Willet, carpenter.
In completing a second-floor renovation of her home on Pine Street, author of The Heirloom House Sherry Lefevre sought to add utility while maintaining the home’s character and appearance from the street. Built by Walter Cure in 1819, the home retains many elements common in Nantucket homes of that period, including its old plaster walls, mantels and mirrorboards. The object of the renovation was to create additional space in the two upstairs bedrooms at the rear of the building, as well as room for an additional bathroom, while maintaining the scale of the house. To accomplish this, architect Angus MacLeod designed a small gable addition on one side and added a shed dormer to increase headroom in one of the other rooms. The addition transformed what had been cramped, dark spaces into much more welcoming rooms, with little change to the original layout of the home. Master carpenter Bill Willet oversaw the construction and preserved all existing woodwork and the texture of the historic plaster walls. The work at 30 Pine serves to remind all that little details can make a big difference.
John A. and Katherine Lodge Stewardship Award
57-65 Pleasant Street
The Phelan Family
In 1841, Samuel King of Nantucket, a copper, purchased the property at 65 Pleasant Street. King, originally from Ireland, married Mary Phelan (1810-1876), a widow, on September 26, 1841, and eventually established a nursery on the property, selling many varieties of apple, pear, and Russian mulberry trees and grapevines. King died in 1899. Mary’s son, John Phelan (1835-1908), served in the Civil War as a mariner and later became a boat engineer in Boston Harbor. He built the much larger Greek Revival house at 61 Pleasant Street, and the King house at 65 Pleasant Street remained in the family.
This property has stayed in the Phelan family ever since. Two newer homes have been added, both taking their cues from the original structures on the property. The lone Greek Revival house set against a backdrop of an open field is evocative of Nantucket’s bucolic past and one of the most unique and best-preserved streetscapes in the Newtown area.
The recently redesigned gardens at the Siasconset Union Chapel enhance the historic grounds of the chapel and serve as a serene space for contemplation and thought. Internationally renowned landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. completed the design for the gardens, and local Nantucket business Champoux Landsape handled the install and care for the new gardens. The project unified the Chapels East and West Columbarium spaces with a pastoral-feeling design. The larger West Garden was transformed over the winter of 2019/20, and the East Garden, along Chapel Street, was reconfigured this past winter. A new C shaped wall was constructed in the East Garden, and Ben Moore, winner of NPT’s Traditional Building Methods Award in 2020, replaced skirting boards along the Chapel’s east and south walls. Work also included improvements to the drainage system to divert water away from the Chapel’s east and south sides, helping to preserve the 1883 structure. The project features many plant species iconically associated with Nantucket, including daffodils blooming in the spring and hydrangea in the summer. The Chapel gardens are a welcoming space for remembrance and reflection and will continue to provide space for the community for future generations.
In 2020, the South Church Preservation Fund completed an exterior restoration of the South Church Tower and its iconic golden dome. The restoration of the 1809 structure was overdue, but the building’s stewards had to get creative – rather than set up expensive scaffolding, the Church turned to a steeplejack to do the work. Paul Bastiaanse, the owner of Valley Restoration, based in Torrington, Connecticut, led the restoration. While suspended from the steeple, Bastiaanse and his team first washed the exterior, then scraped and sanded it with hand tools. The steeple was primed, allowed to cure, then imperfections were caulked and sealed, with any rot repaired in kind. The steeple was then painted, and windows were cleaned and reglazed as needed. The weathered gilding on the steeple dome and weathervane was sanded, sealed, and primed, before a layer of sizing and 23 karat Italian Gold Leaf was carefully applied. Working without conventional scaffolding allowed the restoration of the tower to be completed in a timely and cost-effective manner, without disruption to the Church’s activities, providing another example of how time worn techniques still have a place in caring for our historic buildings. This work was funded by the Nantucket Community Preservation Committee, ensuring this landmark will welcome all who visit or live on Nantucket for years to come.