All posts by Nantucket Preservation Trust

We’ve moved!

By Mary Bergman, guest blogger

The Nantucket Preservation Trust is on the move! After seven years at the organization’s former home on Main Street, the NPT relocated to historic Sherburne Hall at 11 Centre Street at the end of September. Moving day brought with it high winds and unrelenting rains courtesy of Tropical Storm Jose, but the move went ahead as scheduled.

The staff at the NPT are no strangers to Sherburne Hall, which since 1987 has seasonally housed Preservation Institute Nantucket (PIN), one of the country’s oldest field schools for historic preservation. The move will allow for expanded collaboration between the two preservation organizations. In addition to housing the offices of both NPT and PIN, there are plans to host lectures, exhibits, workshops, and other community programming in Sherburne Hall.

Sherburne Hall, built just after the Great Fire of July 1846, took only five months to construct. This perhaps speaks to the island’s desire to rebuild, recover, and get back to work after the devastating fire that destroyed much of downtown. Originally called the Centre Street Block, the building housed six shops and an upstairs meeting space, used by the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows and other social groups from 1847 on. It was even briefly used as a dance studio!

By the 1860s, many of the shops on Centre Street, including shops in Sherburne Hall, were run by women, lending the street the still-used nickname “Petticoat Row.”

Photo courtesy of Design Associates. Click for more photos of restoration.

A renovation completed in 1987 took twice as long as the original construction, with a team of skilled conservators, architects, and historic planners. The 1986/87 restoration relied on photographs from the 1870s, the earliest available of the hall. The renovation uncovered clay pipes, pottery, shoes, fabric, and women’s bonnets–reminders of the women shopkeepers who kept the island running during the golden age of the whaling industry.

Sherburne Hall’s historic facade is protected today because of an easement administered by the Nantucket Historical Association. The facade underwent a microscopic paint analysis that determined its original color was a bright, pure white (like the Atheneum and other Greek Revival buildings) instead of the grey paint that had been added later.

The interior of Sherburne Hall will undergo a few minor touch ups–new coats of paint on the walls and newly refinished floors. The offices of the NPT will be outfitted with new furniture, purchased thanks to a generous grant by the Community Foundation for Nantucket’s ReMain Nantucket Fund.

Over the years, countless islanders and visitors alike have passed through Sherburne Hall, to attend the holiday artisan market, the Nantucket Historical Association’s Festival of Trees, or meetings of community and fraternal organizations. How fitting that now Sherburne Hall will be home to both the Nantucket Preservation Trust and the Preservation Institute Nantucket, two organizations striving to protect and preserve Nantucket’s architectural history, for today and for the future.

The Historic Interiors Survey: Determining the State of Preservation on Nantucket Today

By Mary Bergman, guest blogger

You may know that Nantucket has one of the largest concentrations of pre-Civil War era buildings and homes in the country (more than 800 in total), but just how many of these buildings have kept their historic integrity intact behind closed doors? The Nantucket Preservation Trust (NPT),  in partnership with Preservation Institute Nantucket (PIN) have set out to answer this complicated question. Since 2014, the two organizations have worked together to comb through records, compile information, evaluate and rank interiors, and build a database as part of an unprecedented Historic Interiors Survey.

As summer winds down, interns at both organizations have made great strides in ensuring the creation of this important record. Currently, of the 979 properties in the downtown historic core, information is available on nearly half. Using Historic American Building Survey records, photos from real estate offices, Historic District Commission applications, 3-D laser scans, and the help of owners of historic homes, a good dent is being made in the remaining properties. But there are still 405 properties with no information publicly available, NPT intern and PIN alumna Laura Seaman explained recently.B&WDoorway

Of the buildings on which information is available, 76 are ranked 1, indicating the highest level of historic integrity, and 194 are ranked either 1 or 2, indicating that changes have been made, but not overwhelmingly so. 128 structures surveyed have been heavily altered, or gutted.

Why is this information important to collect? “You need to know what you need to protect,” PIN Program Director Marty Hylton explained. Luckily for Nantucket, PIN has long been concerned with documenting Nantucket’s built environment.

When preservationist F. Blair Reeves and his students arrived on Nantucket as part of the newly-revamped Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in the 1960s, the island they had come to document was on the brink of another rebirth. Suddenly swarmed with surges of summer tourists, some of Nantucket’s old-world charm had taken on a decidedly derelict look by the end of World War II.

Once a prosperous whaling port known from Barbados to New Zealand, Nantucket’s economy all but collapsed after the end of the whaling industry in the 1850s. It was this period of poverty that slowed development and kept the island as though frozen in amber. Rebranded as a place of rest and relaxation at the turn of the last century, Nantucket was once again on the map.

B&WceilingThe island’s many pre-Civil War era buildings have made it a perfect classroom for preservationists. Reeves, a professor at the University of Florida who had been randomly assigned to document Nantucket as part of HABS two years in a row, had arranged for students to make up the documentary team. Reeves’ approach to historic preservation was all-encompassing. Instead of focusing on landmarks–buildings that corresponded to certain events or persons in history–Reeves worked to study structures typical to Nantucket. Additionally, Reeves considered the whole environment in a streetscape or neighborhood, not just the structures themselves.

Reeves was not the only preservationist at work on the island. Walter Beinecke, Jr., had purchased and repaired much of the decaying downtown. His motivations for preserving the island’s waterfront and downtown core were numerous, and he admired Reeves’ efforts. In 1972, Reeves and Beinecke established the Preservation Institute Nantucket (PIN), now an internationally known immersive heritage management program with a focus on documentation. From drafting drawings to 3-D scans, PIN has helped create a robust record of the island’s historic homes. Some, sadly, now only exist between the pages of these binders, having met an unfortunate yet increasingly common end of being irrevocably altered.

To those of us who do not own historic homes, or live within the downtown core, why is this significant? Laura Seaman, who is working towards a dual degree in tourism and historic preservation, explains that there is unparalleled value in preserving the entirely of the house, beyond the facade. This authenticity is a large part of the reason people love to live, visit, and vacation on Nantucket. Without this historic integrity, Nantucket’s economic engine could falter. Virtually every industry on Nantucket is tied to tourism. People come to Nantucket because it feels like nowhere else. Preservation might be the closest you can come to time travel.B&WLivingA Historic Interior Survey of this magnitude has not been completed elsewhere. It is an excellent example of the Nantucket spirit–islanders helping islanders. Although PIN’s winter home is the University of Florida, after more than 50 years on the island, the students, faculty, and lecturers are truly part of the Nantucket community. These dedicated researchers work in concert with the NPT. As an advocacy group, “NPT identifies the need,” Hylton said, “PIN finds how we can help.”

You can help, too! Are you the owner of a historic home in town? The NPT is actively seeking your help to fill in the gaps of the survey. You can make a huge difference to the island’s preservation efforts by taking an online survey by clicking here []. Consider having a full survey completed and photographs taken of your house, now that summer guests are packing up and the island is a bit quieter.

If you have ever walked through Nantucket’s side streets in the still of a winter evening, woodsmoke curling out a chimney, and felt transported to another time, then you already know how vital these original buildings are. They are one of our most direct links to the past, to the people who came before. What we do with them, if we save them or if we destroy them, speaks to who we are as a community today.

The NPT Playhouse Raffle

Only 300 Tickets Available to Purchase! ♦
Don’t Wait….Get Yours Today!

NPT Playhouse with signs

The Nantucket Preservation Trust is honored to be the first Nantucket beneficiary of Cape Associates, Inc. playhouse donation program. The program, started in 2001 by the late Michael Cole, has grown from one annual playhouse donation, to now two, which are given to two different noNPT_Poster_2016_playhouse- cape cod associatesn-profits annual in support if their causes. To date a total of 27 playhouses have been built and over $120,000 raised for the nonprofit recipients, over the past 15 years. To learn more about Cape Associates Inc., a lead custom home building company based in Eastham, MA please click on the company logo seen above.

In 2015 after learning of the program, thanks to past employee Heather Burke, whom has since returned to her Cape Cod based residence, the NPT contacted Cape Associates, Inc. and was added to the (long) wait-list. Only a year later the NPT received was notified with some good news, and thrilled to hear they were one of the two, annual recipients who had been offered the playhouse! On June, 15, 2016 Lindsay Cole, who is Cape Associate Inc.’s Human Resource Manager and the daughter of Michael Cole (program founder), sent an email with the ecxciting opportunity. Unfortunately, being the first Nantucket island non-profit, there were a few logistical hurdles, which had to be accounted for prior to accepting the offer.

Luckily, we are surrounded by a supportive and small community, that often times lends a helping hand. In order to have the playhouse moved to the island, the NPT was told due to the additional transportation needed, in comparison to past recipients, the costs to move it across the ocean was in our hands. After reaching out to a few local businesses we had the issued resolved and were happy to say, yes the NPT would graciously accept the donation. We would like to eNPT_Poster_2016_playhousextend our thanks to the three businesses for their support in making this possible: Shepley Wood Supply who handled the overseas delivery from Cape Cod to Nantucket, Bartlett’s Farm for providing a location to publically display the house (next to children’s playset at the market) and agreed to sell raffle tickets, and Bamber Trucking for offering delivery of the playhouse to it‘s final island “home” (winner will be responsible for any off-island delivery plans).
In late June, after signing on the playhouse creation process quickly began. Cole, helped relay important design plans to her fellow co-workers, and helped arrange (with the island businesses and NPT) delivery of the playhouse from Cape Cod to Nantucket.

We gave NPT the option to give us design ideas for the playhouse and we ended up using a design sketched by Michael May. Our in-house designer tweaked the plans, and two carpenters built it in about two weeks. They used red cedar shingles for the sidewall and roof and stainless staples so as not to puncture the roof and potentially hurt a child inside of it. Underneath the playhouse are 4×4 timbers for support.

Lindsay Cole, Cape Associate’s Inc., Human Resource Manager

Michael May, NPT Executive Director fashioned the playhouse to be a “Lean-To House”, a common architectural style seen on Nantucket. The exterior includes many typical Nantucket features see below:

  • Architectural Style a “Lean-To House”
  • Exterior trim paint is Quaker Grey an HDC approved paint color
  • Features a shingled, redwood, exterior
  • One window box accompanies the front window
  • Includes a “red-brick” chimney
  • Trellis for flowers featured on the left side’s exterior
  • Size: 8′ x 5′ x 9′
    Nantucket play house
    Michael May, NPT Executive Director’s Original Design Plan

Michael’s sketch was completed and submitted in late July. Cape Associates, Inc., reviewed the plans and within a couple weeks the renderings were ready, and sent over to the NPT for a sneak peak. Everything fell right into place and the playhouse was brought over on a Shepley flatbed truck, arriving on island September, 1st.

The playhouse is now on display at Bartlett’s Farm Market, 33 Bartlett Farm Road. It will remain on display until the winner has been drawn on the Sunday of, Nantucket’s Annual Stroll Festival: December 4th. We encourage you to stop Bartlett’s farm VIEW (no entry allowed) the playhouse, and purchase raffle ticket(s) at the designated cashier inside the farm’s market (look for the sign). The raffle ends on Sunday, December 4th, or once all 300 tickets have sold and the winner will be drawn on December, 4. Winner need not be present to win.
For those who are not on island or are not frequent visitors of Bartlett’s Farm tickets for can also be purchased in one of the following ways:




55 Main Street, 3rd floor
Office hours: 9AM to 5PM – Monday – Friday


Sample Raffle Ticket
Sample Raffle Ticket

Don’t Hesitate. Nominate!

The Nantucket Preservation Trust 2017 Preservation Awards: call for nominations will run now through Friday, March 24. The Preservation Awards honor projects, individuals and organizations that have made a positive impact in preserving Nantucket’s historic character.  The awards are designed to encourage proper preservation work, broaden outreach to the building community, and ensure the protection of the island’s historic resources. For nomination forms and further information visit the NPT website:

105 Main Street, Facade – 2016 Award Recipient – Architectural Rendering by Mark Hubbard

The Nantucket Preservation Trust’s 2017 Preservation Awards program, now in its eleventh year, recognizes individuals and organizations for historic preservation, stewardship of island landmarks, sensitive landscape design associated with historic buildings, historical renovations, the promotion of traditional building methods, and for new construction that embodies the principles of the HDC and the guidelines outlined in Building with Nantucket in Mind. Nominees are reviewed by the Preservation Award committee and approved by the NPT board. Award recipients will be notified in late April and a public announcement made during Preservation Month in June via the Nantucket Preservation Trust website and advertisements in The Inquirer & Mirror. Award recipients will be honored at a private awards ceremony, on Thursday, June 29. By recognizing preservation projects and the work of individuals, property owners, design and construction professionals and organizations, the NPT hopes to encourage proper preservation work, broaden outreach to the community, and ensure the protection of Nantucket’s historic resources.

The Nantucket Preservation Trust seeks nominations of individuals or organizations that qualify for one of the following award categories: Architectural Preservation, Landscape, Stewardship, Traditional Building Methods, Historical Renovation and New Construction. All nominations must include nominee’s name, location of project and how it supports and makes a positive impact on Nantucket’s historic character.  For more information and to download a nomination form please 2017 Nomination Form .Contact the NPT office for further information:

If we can provide you with further assistance, or answer any questions please contact the NPT office:

Phone: 508-228-1387


Visit our office: 55 Main Street, 3rd-floor
Hours:   9AM to 5PM- Monday – Friday
*Please note: due to limited staff, we suggest calling if you plan to visit the office to confirm the office is open. During the off-season there may be brief periods when the office will be closed for meetings held elsewhere. Thank you and we apologize for any inconveniences this may cause.



Friday Find: Envision Nantucket, Main Street…

Tomorrow, Saturday April 29th the island will be decorated in daffodils, and Main Street will be full of people in festive yellow attire and antique cars as part of the 2016 Nantucket Chamber of Commerce Daffodil Festival. Nantucket’s annual Daffodil Festival takes place each year the last weekend in April and is the island’s (unofficial) kick-off to spring.

2015 Daffodil Festival NPT Antique Car on Main Street
2015 Daffodil Festival NPT Antique Car on Main Street

Activities along Main Street include: parades, store openings, and the main highlight: The Antique Car Parade. Therefore, today is the perfect opportunity to share a special tour of Main Street found on the “Envision Heritage” YouTube channel, Please take a moment to read the 2015 Ramblings excerpt “Envision Heritage” featured below and to watch this special video to learn more about this important documentation:

“Envision Nantucket was launched by the University of Florida’s  Historic Preservation Program in 2012, as part of the Envision  Heritage  initiative, which explores how new and emerging  technologies can be used to  document, interpret, and manage heritage sites,  landscapes, buildings, and interior spaces.  This program is supported by the Osceola Foundation and the Nantucket Community Preservation Committee. NPT has been a partner, assisting the Preservation Institute: Nantucket with the program on island.

Laser scanning is a highly accurate and efficient means to create a spatial database of an existing site and can be used to generate other work products. This technology greatly reduces the time and increases the accuracy of recording historic landscapes, sites, buildings, and interior spaces. The 3D laser scanner sends out a laser beam that collects data by measuring the distance of the beam to objects in space.  The scanner assigns distances to these objects by calculating the time of flight of the laser in relation to the known speed of light.  Multiple scans are used to collect data from many vantage points, and these scans are then combined into a single virtual 3D model.  From the 3D model, many types of representational products can be created, including: photo-realistic perspectives and orthogonal views (site plans, floor plans, sections, and elevations), line drawings that meet the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) standards, and animated digital walkthroughs of the site.

Visit to learn more and to view Nantucket products prepared by the University of Florida’s Preservation Institute: Nantucket.”

-2015 Ramblings

“Friday Find”: The Friday Five!

authorbooklgThis week found FIVE events you should all attend! They may not be directly related to preservation and our mission, however we also try our best to connect with the island community by working with other non-profits and participating in community events. One Book One Island (OBOI) is a collaborative project of community partners that seeks to promote reading, literacy, and community by encouraging everyone on Nantucket to read, discuss and reflect upon the same book. Today, we encourage you all to get out there and attend one of the last opportunities to discuss and reflect upon the 2016 book:
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.


Celebrate Your Family Story Art Project & Story Telling
9AM to 11AM (ongoing)
(for children birth to 5-years old)
Community School, 56 Centre St.

Concert of Spirituals with the Community  
Starting at 6:00PM
Music Center’s Youth and Women’s Choruses
African Meeting House
29 York Street
*off-street parking available at Silver & Pleasant Streets


Family Quilting Workshop
10:00AM to Noon
for children 6 and up and their parents
Artists Association, 24 Amelia Dr.
A free workshop, but registration is required.
Please call 508-228-0722.  Class size limit is 30.

Grimke Sisters Presentation by Louise Knight  
Grimke biographer Louise Knight offers insights into their life
Nantucket Atheneum, 1 India Street.


A Charleston Buffet courtesy of Annye’s Whole Food.
Music provided by The Shepcats.
5pm to 7pm
Nantucket Historical Association Whaling Museum
15 Broad St.

We hope to see you at some of the community events. If you didn’t have the opportunity to read the 2016 book there’s always next year! Make sure to check back next January to learn about the 2017 book and events.

Happy Friday!
-Marisa Holden, Marketing and Events Director

Friday Find: The mysterious locked drawer….

Spring is in the air! Winter is flying by and we’re getting closer and closer to our busiest time of year, summer! Meaning, the NPT office is getting ready for Preservation Month and our annual fundraisers, welcoming back visitors, board and committee members, and getting into spring cleaning mode.

Mel Cheeseman
Mel Cheeseman

In the midst of our annual office clean up we decided for the, “umpteenth” time to try and open a mysteriously locked desk drawer. Yes, this sounds strange, but our drawers all have locks on them and (before I was an NPT employee, over four years ago) one locked shut, we thought, for good! At NPT we like to unlock histories of houses, so we felt it only appropriate to finally unlock this mystery.

The days of wondering what was in this mystifying drawer are now over. Mel, our new Administrative Assistant, decided to take a swing at opening it and surprisingly was successful! No, it wasn’t a special drawer stocked with important documents, keys, or even fun items, but rather one filled with some very random items! Take a look at what we found once the drawers inside was revealed!photo2

Yes, that’s what it looks like the contents were nothing special:

1. One bag of old, stale pretzels
2. One travel size hand sanitizer bottle
3. One NPT custom made logo bracelet
4. One calculator
5. One small bottle of Aveda hand cream
6. One moist towelette
7. One NPT bank stamp

IMG_3042This may not be the most exciting “Friday Find” but the NPT office found it quite exciting to finally know the contents inside the mysterious locked drawer! I hope you enjoy you’re Friday and search those old drawers, or decide to unlock your house history because you never know what you may find.

-Marisa Holden
Marketing and Events Coordinator, NPT

Friday Find: Packrat to Preservationist

Esther Gordy Edwards
Esther Gordy Edwards

Today, Friday, March 4th is the first Friday of Women’s History Month. In honor of the month long celebration, we are highlighting a very important figure in preservation, musical, and African American history, Esther Gordy Edwards. Her name might not be sound familiar at first, but you have heard of Motown Record Corporation, established by her brother, Berry Gordon. Not only was Motown a successful record company, it produced some of the 60’s greatest hits by famous musicians including: Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and more!

Edwards, along with other members of the Gordon family, played an important role at the company. In 1972 Edwards decided to stay in Detroit to manage the corporate office while the rest of Motown moved to Los Angeles. She understood the importance of preserving and collecting Motown’s early history and retained a large collection of memorabilia as well as the original recording studio. Lucky for us Edwards was a packrat and her love of Motown preserved this important part of American history forever.

Motown Museum
Motown Museum

In 1985 she decided it was time to share these memories and the building where it all started with the rest of the world, and officially opened Motown Museum. Two years later in 1987 the state of Michigan designated Hitsville U.S.A. at 2648 West Grand Boulevard a historic site. Today, we owe it all to Esther Gordy Edwards for preserving the memories and place where some of America’s greatest hits were recorded. Sadly, Edwards passed away in 2011, but she will forever be remembered as preserving the legacy of Motown. To learn more or visit the museum click the following link:

-Marisa Holden
Marketing and Events Director, NPT

Friday Find: Academy Awards and Historic Sites!

For this week’s “Friday Find” we found a reason why you may want to watch or re-watch a few of the 2016 Academy Award nominated films. The 88th award show airs this weekend, on Sunday, February 28 at 7pm. Did you know today’s films often feature historic locations? The following films, nominated for a 2016 Academy Award, feature a historic location and/or building: Steve Jobs, Trumbo, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, and The Revenant.

2066 Crist Dr, Los Altos, CA
2066 Crist Dr, Los Altos, CA

The film Steve Jobs, which has been nominated for the best actor in a leading role and best actress in a supporting role, shows the childhood home of Steve Jobs –today a designated historic site. The property, located at 2066 Crist Drive in Los Altos, California, is not only where Jobs lived from 7th grade through high school, but also the house’s garage is where the very first Apple computer was designed. The computer was one of 50, which were designed and created by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne in the late 70’s. At the time they each sold for $500. Little did they know that their design and those 50 computers would lead them to a company that today could soon be worth over a trillion dollars!

Steve Jobs childhood home in Los Altos, CA and garage where the first Apple computer was designed
Steve Jobs home in Los Altos, CA and location of the first designed Apple computer

The house is still in the family, owned by Job’s adopted sister, Patricia Jobs. Since the house has a historic designation any renovations or changes made to the building must first be approved by the town of Los Altos. If you haven’t seen the film but plan to, make sure to look for the shot of this 20th century landmark!

-Marisa Holden, Events and Marketing Director

Friday Find: Valentines Day Love!

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The Nantucket Preservation Trust has many reasons to express love on Saturday, Valentine’s Day! We wouldn’t be here if weren’t for the support of our members, board, event attendees, business sponsors, underwriters, homeowners, and most importantly the historic island Nantucket! We love the historic island and all that encompasses it.

vday for web

Do you share our love for Nantucket’s architectural preservation?  Become a 2016 member to help us protect what we love, historic architecture and most importantly its interiors! Show us your care and join today by clicking HERE!

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