All posts by Mary Bergman

Mary’s Favorite Instagram Accounts for Island Architectural Photography

 

From rose-covered-cottages to lighthouses to grand summer homes, Nantucket’s architecture is a photographer’s dream. This week, I’m sharing my favorite Instagram accounts. Be sure to follow them—and us!—to keep an eye on Nantucket, wherever your travels take you this fall.

Dirk and Sharon Van Lieu, the team behind Nantucket Architecture, often seek out some of the island’s lesser-known gems, like this Dionis cottage, to share with followers. As we head into the fall, their off-season photography especially is hauntingly beautiful.

 

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Amanda Amaral is a photographer originally from Texas, but has called Nantucket home for more than five years. Her work often includes architectural details, bathed in exquisite light. Follow her to see the island change with the seasons.

 

Grandeur Nantucket photographs (and finds and shares photos of) some of Nantucket’s grandest and most iconic homes–or homes that were stately in their time (like this shot of 6 Gull Island Lane).  Follow along for vibrant colors and fun facts about Nantucket’s history.

Longtime Nantucket resident Josh Gray’s atmospheric photos will instantly remind you to why the island is called “The Gray Lady.” A writer, too, Josh often combines quotes from literature with his photos.

 

Finally, there’s us, the Nantucket Preservation Trust! We love sharing the stories of Nantucket’s unique architectural heritage. Be sure to tag us in your photos of Nantucket architecture so we can see all the great photos you’re taking, too!

Careful With the Cobblestones

This letter originally appeared in the 9/13/2018 edition of the Inquirer and Mirror.

To the Editor: Few streets in America can transport you back in time like Nantucket’s Main Street, from the grand houses of whale-oil merchants to the humble cobblestones.  Recently, the Department of Public Works announced plans for much-needed improvements to upper Main Street, starting with the sidewalks between Winter and Pleasant streets.

We commend the DPW, and director Rob McNeil, for turning their attention to this historic streetscape. Improvements to the sidewalks will allow not only visitors and residents with mobility issues but all to more safely navigate our streets and learn about our history. The DPW has taken the time to meet with Main Street neighbors and learn of their specific concerns and hopes for the project. At a presentation on Sept. 6 the DPW revealed plans to reuse original material, and when original material does not exist, some new materials will be distressed to create a timeworn appearance.

Concerns about the project remain, however, especially the proposed work to the cobblestone street. Current plans call for removing cobbles and old walkways, excavating, laying asphalt and then relaying cobblestones on top of the asphalt in stone dust, instead of the traditional method of setting cobblestones in sand. Our cobblestone streets immediately convey a sense of authenticity and antiquity and lend heavily to Nantucket’s unique sense of place. The elements that make them special and their quirks should be retained as much as possible. Equally important is the quality. Cobblestones have a very long lifespan, especially when compared to an asphalt surface.

Nantucket’s traditional cobblestone streets – cobbles set in sand – may roll and curve in odd places, but they have the environmental advantage of being a permeable paving surface. This means the cobbles shift with the ground, rather than crack, when they move, and rainwater can penetrate into the ground. For this reason, cobblestones set in sand can help reduce stormwater runoff. This is especially important for Winter Street, which is at a particularly low elevation and already contends with standing water after storms. Early residents of this area – known as the Clay Pits, where clay for bricks was excavated – knew this. Look at the foundations of 86, 88 and 90 Main Street. They are all high above the ground.

Cobblestones set in sand also provide our ancient trees with the rooting space they need to grow and flourish. What will happen to these giant elms if the base of the road is excavated and paved over? These trees are a precious resource and best practices must be employed to ensure their survival.

We know the season for road repairs is a short one and improvements must be made, but we strongly urge the DPW to continue to work with the neighbors and to rethink the use of asphalt. We believe using this important stretch of Main Street as a testing ground for a new method of cobblestone paving on-island would be a mistake and urge the town to again lay the cobblestones in the traditional method that has worked for nearly 200 years. These cobblestones have been around longer than any of us have. They deserve to be treated with the utmost of care.

MICHAEL MAY

Executive Director

Nantucket Preservation Trust

Preservation in Practice: Window Restoration with Brian FitzGibbon

A window in process.

Brian FitzGibbon, antique window-restoration expert, has taken out only one ad since he began working on historic homes. At age seventeen, he started a painting business and put a small classified ad in his New Jersey hometown newspaper. His phone has been ringing ever since.

The youngest of seven children, Brian grew up in a Victorian house. When he was still in high school, his parents hired Italian master craftsman Antonio Pinola to work on the house and Brian spent thousands of hours working alongside Antonio. “He hated doing windows, and our house had tons of windows, so he trained me to work on them,” Brian says.

While well versed in many trades, Brian had dedicated his work to saving Nantucket’s antique windows. Why windows? There’s beauty in looking through the imperfect, hand-blown glass. When you look through old windows, Brian says, you are looking back on the world the way it would have been seen two hundred years ago. Nearly all window frames made prior to 1940 were made with old growth wood. Antique window frames were made from the finest grades of lumber, easily disassembled and repaired, and meant to last for generations. Before machines, each sash was carved by hand. It is an exceptional feeling to hold in your hands a window made by a Nantucketer more than two hundred years ago. You think of all the storms the paper-thin glass has endured.

 

A restored door.

So why are these beautiful, impeccably made antique windows rapidly disappearing from Nantucket, and from countless houses across the country? One of the biggest misconceptions about antique windows is that new windows are more energy efficient.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Manufacturing replacement windows is highly energy intensive, and often involves long-distance shipping that uses even more natural resources. It would take many years to recoup the cost of replacement windows through energy savings—often longer than the life of the replacement windows themselves. With proper installation, copper weather-stripping, and exterior storm windows, antique windows can equal or beat the insulative value of new windows.

Window frames painted and waiting for glass.

“I want to help these houses live for generations,” Brian says. This year, he  worked on restoring the windows of 100 Main Street and Shanunga in ’Sconset. That’s over a hundred sashes. Brian does all the work himself, by hand.

Brian’s especially thrilled to be working on Shanunga, one of his favorite houses on the island. The historic cottages of ’Sconset are an absolute delight to all that stroll by them, and he’d love to do more work on these important cottages. Imagine what the island would have looked like when all windows were handcrafted glass.

 

Originally published in Ramblings

Back to School…

Academy Hill in 2018.

The weather is still warm here on Nantucket, but many of our island visitors and friends have begun their journeys home as the new school year looms on the horizon.

With that in mind, this week’s post looks at the history of the Academy Hill School building on Nantucket.

Did you know that Academy Lane was not named for the big brick building that sits atop it? Instead, it was named for an earlier private school called The Academy, situated north of the public school. The Academy was in existence by 1800, but by 1818 the building had been sold to the First Congregational Church.

Academy Hill in the 1850s.

In 1856, the first class at Academy Hill had 129 students.  The original Academy Hill building was wood construction and opened on December 2, 1856. The firm of Easton and Thompson constructed the building for a cost of $20,000.

The wooden Academy Hill school underwent modernization and alterations in 1904, totaling $10,700 in improvements. Ten years later, in 1914, further alterations were made, including the addition of a south wing.

But by 1927, there was a need for a new school building. The town was split on what to do about Academy Hill. Some thought the site was too small, others wanted the new building to remain in the same location. The wooden structure was taken down and reconstructed as a three-story brick school building, opening for the school year 1929.

By 1977, the grand brick building was showing its age. It was far too small to keep up with the population on the island. That year, one-third of all Nantucket children went to school in temporary facilities.

In 1979, the Town of Nantucket sought proposals from bidders to transform the old school building into housing for the elderly. In 1986, Academy Hill reopened with 27 apartments for senior citizens on Nantucket, finding new life for the old building.

The Life & Work of Addison Mizner on August 23rd

Addison Mizner

 

We’re thrilled to partner with the Nantucket Historical Association to  present a lecture on The Life and Work of Addison Mizner with author Richard René Silvin. Join us Thursday, August 23  at 6:00 PM at the Nantucket Whaling Museum to learn more about the noted (and elusive) society architect of Palm Beach, Addison Mizner. Tickets available here.

Addison Mizner (1872-1933) spent his early life in Spain and Central America. His father was US minister to Guatemala, and young Mizner was heavily influenced by Spanish culture and heritage. He spent ten years as an apprentice before unleashing his talent on the architecture scene. Mizer’s first major commission was the Everglades Club, one of the world’s most exclusive golf clubs. Mizner went on to design many buildings in the Palm Beach area and was a driving force in the development of the city of Boca Raton.

Richard Rene Silvin

Richard René Silvin’s fascinating life has taken him all over the world. Born in New York, he grew up attending Swiss boarding schools. He earned a BA from Georgetown University and an MBA from Cornell University, after which he spent 25 years in the investor owned hospital industry. He was the head of the International Division of American Medical International, Inc. which owned and operated hospitals in ten countries.

Silvin survived a late-stage cancer and retired from his role at American Medical International, only to begin an exciting second career as an author. Silvan has published five books, including a memoir about his friendship with the late Duchess of Windsor and a history of Palm Beach as seen through the eyes of Mizner. His latest work is about the SS Normandie, the French Lien’s magnificent 1930’s flagship.

Silvin has lectured widely on hospital administration and comparative international care systems. He is currently the vice-chairman of the Palm Beach Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Get your tickets online here or by calling the NHA, 508.228.1894.

Support the NPT at the August Fête & Nantucket Summer Antiques Show

 

August is finally here, and with it comes our most-anticipated event of the year, the annual August Fête!

This year’s Fête takes place on Thursday, August 9th from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM and explores the School Street neighborhood. You’ll get a chance to tour four historic homes and enjoy a tented reception on the lawn of the Old Schoolmaster’s House. With refreshments and libations from the Nantucket Catering Company and Spanky’s Raw Bar, entertainment from the Shep Cats, and our thoughtfully curated Sense of Place exhibit and auction, you’ll have a fantastic time celebrating Nantucket’s architectural history.

22 Fair Street, one of the historic homes you’ll tour at the August Fete.

There’s still time to get your tickets. Give us a call at 508.228.1387 to reserve yours today. New this year is our pre-check in, where we are encouraging guests to stop by the NPT offices on 11 Centre Street Monday-Wednesday this week to pick up your buttons that will let you in to the reception site and all the open houses. Skip the line and spend more time enjoying yourself at the 2018 August Fête.

The festivities continue Friday, August 10th with two events at the Nantucket Summer Antiques Show to sponsor the NPT’s Mary Helen and Michael Fabacher Scholarship.

Shop with award-winning interior designer Susan Zises Green at 9:00 AM and learn how to make the most of your antique show finds. Tickets are very limited and $100 per person. Includes 10:00 AM preview shopping and brunch, as well as admission to the Antiques Show all four days.

At 10:00 AM on Friday, the annual Strawberries & Cream Preview Brunch is a fun way to kick off the Antiques Show weekend and get an early look at all the vendors. Tickets are included with Fête leadership, $40 in advance, or $45 at the door.

Call us at 508.228.1387 to reserve your tickets today for all these exciting events.

August Fête Open Houses Sneak Peek!

Each year, the open houses are the highlights of the August Fête. This year, we’ll be exploring the School Street neighborhood in the Fish Lots. Here is a sneak peek at two of the houses that will be open for guests to tour.

Henry Coffin, Mariner | 22 Fair Street c. 1749-1756

The land at 22 Fair Street was originally owned by James Coffin (1640-1720) son of Tristram Coffin and Dionis Stevens Coffin. James Coffin was granted ownership of the 4th Fish Lot in 1717 but died three years later. His youngest son, Jonathan Coffin (1692-1773) appears to have inherited much of the 4th Fish Lot at age 29. Jonathan Coffin then granted the land to his son Henry Coffin (1716-1756) when Henry was a 33-year-old mariner. Henry Coffin married and had five children. A deed from 1808 in which Henry Coffin’s two oldest sons sold their interests in a piece of land “and a dwelling house” describes the property—including the house—as having been formerly owned by their late father from 1749 until his death in 1756.

 

Thomas Macy | 3 Tattle Court c. 1690-1700

The house at the end of Tattle Court was once the residence of Thomas Macy, which accounts for the earlier name of the court, Macy Lane. One of the oldest houses in the Fish Lots and perhaps on island, it is believed to have been moved from the original settlement at Sherburne and rebuilt at its present location soon after the neighborhood was laid out in 1717. Like most Nantucket houses from the early period, it faces south. The house was labeled “old and vacant” on the Sanborn Insurance Company map dated 1904 but was restored mid-century by Stewart and Maude Mooney.

A Place to Call Home with Gil Schafer | July 19th at the Great Harbor Yacht Club

Click here to purchase tickets.

In Gil Schafer’s bestselling first book, The Great American House, he uncovered just what makes a house a home. Architecture, landscape, and decoration all work together to create your own oasis. In his second book, A Place to Call Home: Tradition, Style, and Memory and in the New American House, Schafer shows how “traditional and classical principles can blend with a sense of place to create beautifully realized homes in a range of styles, all with the satisfying tensions of fancy and simple, past and present.”

A Gil Schafer designed space.

Schafer is known for stunning homes that fit seamlessly on the land they occupy, both in design and scale. A Place to Call Home highlights some of Schafer’s different projects, and the distinct landscapes they occupy. We quickly learn that the character of the landscape informs the style and scale of the house.

Every part of Nantucket tells a story.

 

Nantucket is a place like no other, where we are acutely aware of the relationship between the past and present as we move through the island. Whether it is the historic buildings of downtown, the wild open spaces of the moors and south shore beaches, or the quaint rose-covered cottages of ‘Sconset, we exist in that very space Schafer writes of—“the satisfying tensions of…past and present.”

We hope you will join us for what is sure to be a fascinating afternoon with award winning architect Gil Schafer III, one of the world’s leading experts on contemporary classical architecture.

There are a still a handful of tickets left. Call our offices at 508.228.1387 or purchase online by clicking here. 

2018 Preservation Awards Ceremony

Last week, we gathered to honor the 2018 Preservation Award recipients at the Governor’s room of the Great Harbor Yacht Club.

Thanks to all who participated, and to Mark Hubbard for the beautiful pen-and-ink drawings of the award winning properties.

The Architectural Preservation Award 
The Hospital Thrift Shop
17 India Street

 

With limited resources, the Hospital Thrift Shop (HTS) embarked on much needed maintenance of the Macy-Horsfield House at 17 India Street. The almost all-volunteer organization sought to make the building safer for its many visitors. The house (built in 1792) had been the victim of years of water damage, resulting in a rotten sill, a moving rubble foundation, and a building that bowed out into the driveway. The HTS consulted preservationist Brian Pfeiffer, who connected the organization with craftpeople on the island (Matt Anderson, Pen Austin, and Mike Gault) and at the North Bennet Street School (Michael Burrey and students) who used traditional building methods and materials to repair the integrity of the timber frame, the rubble foundation, the sill, and the plaster walls. This level of stewardship by volunteers is highly commendable and a great reminder that proper maintenance is the root of preservation.

 

The Caroline A. Ellis Landscape Award
Mariann Berg (Hundahl) Appley
69 Main Street

The house and gardens at 69 Main Street (Mitchell-Beinecke house, ca. 1821-1833), now under the stewardship of Mrs. Mariann Appley, are an important part of the Upper Main Street landscape. The house is a reminder of the wealth whaling brought to Nantucket, while the gardens are illustrative of the island’s reinvention in the 1960s and 1970s, as spurred, in large part, by former owner Walter Beinecke. As part of the 1962 restoration, Beinecke added a formal garden, a greenhouse and the Georgian-inspired tool-houses connected by a bench and arbor, in keeping with the character and period of the restoration. Mrs. Appley purchased the property in 1979. She is accomplished gardener and long-time member and former President of the Nantucket Garden Club. Understanding the importance of the both the house and grounds at 69 Main Street, she will be placing a preservation easement on the interior, exterior, and gardens of the property. Not only has she been a careful steward of the property’s landscape, but the easement will ensure it is protected for decades to come.

 

The John A. and Katherine S. Lodge Stewardship Award 
John Ray House | 8 Ray’s Court
The Harris Family

 Since 1945, the John Ray House (c. 1753) at 8 Ray’s Court has been thoughtfully cared for by one family. Purchased that year by Rachel Carpenter, the house passed to Rachel’s nephew, Don Harris, and his wife, Beverly in 1975. Don, who passed away last year, grew up spending summer at the house and relished its history. Preservation of the house was extremely important to him, and Don and Beverly soon became fixtures at many preservation-education programs so they could gain knowledge about the house and its proper care. Much of the everyday maintenance of the house and repairs have been completed by them. The Harris family has also been willing to share the house—opening for others to learn, including the Preservation Institute Nantucket students. Today, due to the family’s preservation commitment, the John Ray House remains a fine example of an early Nantucket house that has evolved overtime and yet retains its architectural integrity. Before his death, Don wrote of the house, “Everything in the house breathes the past.”

Traditional Building Methods Award 
Wayne Morris, Mason

The NPT is pleased to recognize mason Wayne Morris in honor of his more than forty years of service to the island’s historic structures. He is well known among island craftspeople and tradespeople for his hard work, fairness, expert ability, and his willingness to think outside the box. Mr. Morris has worked on numerous buildings on the island, both private and public. Many of these buildings are an integral part of this community and include landmarks such as St. Paul’s Church where he worked on the new addition; the Coffin School on Winter Street where he replaced damaged brick and developed appropriate mortar; and the Maria Mitchell Science Library on Vestal Street, where he repaired the stucco wall system.

 

 

New Construction Award
Nantucket Yacht Club Dormitory | 4 South Beach Street
Emeritus Development and Nantucket Yacht Club

Designing a large commercial building in a historic district is not an easy task and poses many challenges. The Nantucket Yacht Club (NYC) and Emeritus Development were able to successfully complete large-scale, new construction that fits into the historic surroundings. The Yacht Club Dormitory at 4 South Beach Street is a 6,000-square foot building and contains sixteen dormitory units. Emeritus addressed the challenge by breaking up the massing, employing a low roof, and adding ornamentation like a shingle flare, to evoke the architecture of the early twentieth century. The structure also took its design cues and scale from the adjoining NYC. In addition to sensitively fitting into the streetscape, this building addresses the island’s critical housing need and will provide employee housing that will contribute to the vitality of the downtown year-round.

August Fête in the Fish Lots!

 

This year’s August Fête will be held in the Fish Lots…but, where, exactly, are the Fish Lots and where did the name come from?

The English settlers who purchased the west end of the island from Thomas Mayhew formed a Proprietorship that allowed each of them an equal share of house-lot land from Capaum Harbor to Hummock Pond. The remainder of the island was held in common for pasture, hayfields, timber rights, and other purposes. However, the settlers soon realized they would need to turn to the sea, and the larger harbor, to seek their fortunes.

The Fish Lots, created by the Proprietors in 1717, was the second major division of land at the site of the present town—bounded on the east by Quanaty Bank, on the west by Pine Street, and divided east and west by Fair Street. The lots comprised 27 sections—one share for each of the 20 original landholders and one half-share for each of the 14 half-share tradesmen. They have long been called the Fish Lots because their proximity to the harbor made them a place where fisherman dried codfish on wooden racks. Later, these lots became home to mariners, craftsmen, and tradesmen.

Today, there’s no codfish drying occurring in the Fish Lots, but there will be a great party on School Street on Thursday, August 9th. Tickets are available now, get yours online by clicking here or by calling the NPT offices at 508.228.1287. You’ll get a chance to see inside houses in the School Street neighborhood, and learn more about the people who lived in the Fish Lots.