Announcing the 2023 Preservation Award Winners!

The Michelle Elzay Architectural Preservation Award

7 Starbuck Court
Dana and Jamey Simpson

A historic candlehouse has been given new life under the ownership of Jamey and Dana Simpson. Originally constructed c. 1807 as a candle factory by brothers Joseph and Simeon Starbuck, the building was converted to a dwelling between 1923 and 1949.  When the Simpsons purchased the property at the end of Starbuck Court in 2020, they became only the fifth family to own the building in its more than 200-year history. Once taking ownership, they sought to respect the historic character of the property and leave as much unchanged as possible, while modernizing it for a 21st-century family.

The Simpsons needed more space than was available in the candle house and a c.1837 shed on the property. They hired the architecture firm Hendricks Churchill to design thoughtful renovations of the historic structures and conceive a path forward that provided the additional living space that was needed. Under the direction of senior designer James Harris, it was decided that adding a third structure would allow for these improvements without altering the existing footprints of either of the historic buildings.  Taking its architectural cues from the candlehouse, this third structure is connected to the historic building via a boardwalk.

In the historic candle factory, a team led by project manager Boris Braun and site manager Robert Aschwandenby from Todd Burns Building and Restoration oversaw updates that included plasterwork completed by Oscar Erazo of EC&P, Inc. The main living space retains its open stud walls and tall vaulted ceilings. The Simpsons respected the quirks of a building not originally constructed as a dwelling, which required a new foundation for stability. Mason Kevin Martin did period-appropriate work in the old and new building. Custom doors by Nantucket Millworks complement existing features, as does custom millwork by William Green Woodworking. The rest of the team included crews from Barret Enterprises, Strang LLC, Liberty Concrete, One Time Painting, O’Shea Electric, Dussault Plumbing, Maine & ACK HVAC, and Mac Davis Flooring. Julie Wood of Hither Creek Gardening collaborated with the homeowners to install simple gardens that complement the buildings and contain many native plants.  Mike Misurelli of J&M Landscape Services, completed all the hardscaping and larger plantings. 

Homeowner and designer Dana Simpson of Hammertown Design drew inspiration from a1960s-era Historic American Building Survey interior photograph of the candlehouse. With beauty and utility at the forefront, Dana’s design incorporates vintage finds, the work of local craftspeople and artisans, and one-of-a-kind pieces that harmonize with the historic space. The bohemian Monaghan Sisters of Greater Light (8 Howard Street) would feel right at home here.

Traditional Building Methods Award

Michael Gault

Carpenter Michael Gault has a love of old buildings and a refusal to cut corners. Originally from New Hampshire, he came to Nantucket in 2003 and worked as a lobsterman alongside Chuck Butler for a couple of years. Mike returned to New Hampshire, but Nantucket was never far from his mind, and in 2011 he made the island his permanent home. Mike used his woodworking skills to make furniture for designers and carved quarterboards for Nantucket homes. He established his own business, Gault Woodworking, in 2013. Mike has worked on numerous previous NPT-Award winning projects, including the historic restorations of 55 Union Street, 84 Main Street, 86 Main Street, and the Hospital Thrift Shop, where he is the building’s caretaker. Mike believes in reusing and repurposing historic materials wherever possible. Mike consistently and creatively employs perhaps the most traditional of building methods – especially in Nantucket – the reuse and repurposing of building materials. At a recently completely renovation of a 1903 beach house in Quidnet Mike re-hung and re-fit the existing windows, created flooring for a new bedroom from shelving reclaimed in New Hampshire, built the outdoor shower floor with lumber from a porch in Wauwinet, repurposed doors from his personal stash – and the old kitchen cupboards became the new bathroom vanity. With consummate attention to detail and craftsmanship, his skills help preserve Nantucket’s historic treasures.

The Caroline A. Ellis Landscape & Garden Award

Kathrina Marques

For more than 35 years on Nantucket, Kathrina Marques has contributed her time, attention, and knowledge to some of the island’s most beloved gardens. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Kathrina first came to the island for a summer job and has left her mark. Since 2002, she has cared for the landscapes of the Nantucket Historical Association, where she is currently the Landscape and Grounds Manager. At the c. 1686 Oldest House on Sunset Hill, Kathrina maintains its 17th-century style kitchen garden, full of herbs, vegetables, and other plants with various medicinal or culinary uses that Kathrina can describe in detail. She also works on period-appropriate planting designs at other NHA sites including Greater Light, the Thomas Macy House, and the Hadwen House, where she is aided by volunteers from the Nantucket Garden Club. Kathrina stewarded the gardens at the former Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum, and, when the building on Union Street was sold, she oversaw the removal and replanting of apple trees from that location to the Oldest House garden. Her own home garden, on Surfside Road, is a beautiful treat to view for anyone walking or biking past, or even those stuck sitting in traffic. Kathrina has expanded her knowledge through courses in landscape preservation and garden history with the Landscape Institute through Boston Architectural College, and she is always willing to share what she knows with island visitors and residents alike.

Historical Renovation Award

31 Main Street, Siasconset
Hollie and Jamie Holt

The house at 31 Main Street in ’Sconset has changed greatly over time, evolving from its original vernacular Greek Revival construction c. 1858, to being covered with Stick-style ornamentation in the late-19th century, to a substantial Queen Anne style renovation in the early-20th century. James and Hollie Holt purchased 31 Main Street in 2012, and immediately appreciated its history and evolution over time, but with just one bathroom on the second floor of the house shared between four bedrooms, they sought to create an additional bathroom with as little disturbance to the existing home as possible. They considered converting an historic garage on their property to a bedroom and bathroom, but with the help of architectural designer Angus MacLeod realized they could fulfill their program needs with minimal disturbance to their existing home. Two closets between two bedrooms were altered to create a new ensuite bath, with only slight changes to the home’s flow, with work carefully completed by builder Don Meyers. The Holt’s found a creative way to create additional space within the confines of their home, respecting the property’s history and character.

The John A. and Katherine S. Lodge Stewardship Award

6 Farmer Street
Judy & John Belash

The Shubael Folger Jr. house at 6 Farmer Street is one of the more unusual homes in town– connected to its neighbor at 4 Farmer Street, it provided a peculiar preservation task to Judy and John Belash, who purchased the home in 1998. Upon taking ownership of the c. 1764 house, the Belashes sought to adapt it for their uses and restore historic elements that had been covered over time. They removed Victorian-era and later 20th century finishes to expose the home’s 18th-century features, including original cradleboards, floors, mantels, fireplace paneling, and banister. Working with builder Frank Psaradelis, they replicated details that had been removed, like a beaded detail on the door frame leading to a new sunroom, where there had previously been a shed built against the house. When the central chimney, which had been partially deconstructed by a prior owner, collapsed, the Belashes chose to reuse as much of the original brick as possible when reconstructing one of the fireboxes. Under the Belashes ownership, the remarkably intact 18th-century details of 6 Farmer Street are able to shine.

8 North Liberty Street
Rebecca & Henry Packer

8 North Liberty Street, the Henry C. Pinkham house, was constructed between 1834 and 1852. Over its long history, just four families have owned the home, each making respectful additions and preserving original Greek Revival features. Photographer Louis S. Davidson and his wife Alice Davidson purchased 8 North Liberty in 1944, and in 2007, their daughter Joan Pratel placed a conservation restriction on the land surrounding 8 North Liberty Street, ensuring that the approximately 1.5-acre parcel, with old growth elm trees, will be preserved as open space. Joan’s niece, and Louis and Alice’s granddaughter, Rebecca Davidson Packer, and her husband Henry, acquired the home in 2012, embarked on a careful rehabilitation of the home that included refinishing the historic floors and repairing and repainting the plaster walls, all work performed with the utmost care.

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