The 2016 Preservation Awards: call for nominations will run now through Friday March 25 at 5:00 PM. The Preservation Awards honor projects, individuals and organizations that have made a positive impact in preserving Nantucket’s historic character. NPT hopes that the awards will continue 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 Preservation Awards webpage, click here.
The 2016 Preservation Awards program, now in its tenth year, recognizes individuals and organizations for historic preservation related projects, stewardship of island landmarks, sensitive landscape design associated with historic buildings, historical renovations, new construction, and the promotion of traditional building methods. Nominees are reviewed by The Preservation Award committee and then given to the NPT board for final decisions. Award recipients will be notified in late April and announced during Preservation Month in June via the Nantucket Preservation Trust website and advertised in The Inquirer & Mirror. Award recipients are annually honored at the private Preservation Awards Ceremony, which will be held on Thursday, June 23. 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 and broaden outreach to the community.
We are asking for nominations of an individual or organization that qualifies 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 preservation on the island. To download a nomination form click here or for more information call the NPT office at 508-228-1387.
The old Easy Street Gallery building at 27 Easy Street will be demolished unless a proposal to move it from its waterfront site is completed in the next few weeks. In December, NPT–concerned about the loss of an important element of Nantucket’s early art colony–reached out to the Land Bank, which allowed us to complete an assessment of the building with timber frame expert Michael Burrey and preservationist Pen Austin. These experts concluded that the structure is a candidate for preservation.
Although left to deteriorate for many years, the Easy Street Gallery building is structurally sound and there are no apparent “red flags” that would hinder a move from the site or its restoration. Surprisingly, the interior contains eighteenth century elements, including paneled walls, doors and timbers—all obviously repurposed from earlier structures in the Nantucket fashion. The central section of the building is of mid-nineteenth century vintage, but attic beams are hand-hewn and this section is timber frame construction, which would make disassembling relatively easy. A north wing was added about 1923 when the building was relocated to this site. The evolution of the building is still evident in late nineteenth and early twentieth century details such as whimsical door surrounds with columns and transoms for ventilation, and a large sliding doorway that reflect its use as a seaside bath house and art gallery.
Besides its architectural features, the building also has a very interesting history. It was originally built as a cooper shop, and acquired and enlarged by Charles E. Hayden for use as a heated saltwater bathhouse called the Clean Shore Bathing Rooms. Hayden established his bathhouse on the harbor near South Beach Street (just north of the present -day Nantucket Yacht Club) with bathing rooms and changing rooms on two floors. Hayden’s remained a popular destination for the early tourist trade for many years, but by the 1920s it was no longer in fashion. In 1923, the building was purchased by Florence Lang and relocated to its current location on the Easy Street basin. A nationally-renown art patron, Lang transformed the building into the Easy Street Gallery (consider a predecessor of the Artist Association), which opened in 1924 and remained a driving force of the art colony until her death. The gallery was part of a larger effort by Lang to acquire, transform and save the fish houses, the railroad depot, and other structures along the wharves and at the same time assist artist by providing reasonable rents for studios and craft shops. With the lost of its patron the gallery closed in 1943 – and became a home before being converted for commercial use.
In recent years historians and preservationists have embraced the importance of the art colony and deemed structures associated with it as community landmarks worthy of preservation. The old Easy Street Gallery is significant for its role in Nantucket’s late nineteenth century tourist industry as well as the emergence of the island’s early twentieth century art colony. In fact, in 2012 Nantucket’s National Historic Landmark status was expanded by the Department of Interior to include the art colony’s role, noting it is not only of local importance, but of significance to the nation.
Unless rescued, the demolition of the building will occur by early spring. Last week the Nantucket Land Bank developed an RFP for interested nonprofit groups to remove the structure. Although NPT has no funds to complete a move or restoration project, we could team up with a private developer who would be willing to take on a renovation project. Although in the eleventh hour, our hope is that the building can be rescued and remain a part of Nantucket’s architectural heritage.
We are thrilled that Esta-Lee Stone, NPT board member and Preservation Month committee chair found the 2016 Preservation Month opening film, Raise the Roof! We would like to thank The Nantucket Atheneum and Congregation Shirat Ha Yam for co-sponsoring this event. The film has been provided by The National Center for Jewish Film, www.jewishfilm.org
The two screenings will take place on the following days and both will conclude with a Q&A session featuring special guests: Rick and Laura Brown and Filmmakers Cary and Yari Wolinsky.
Saturday, June 11 at 6:30 pm
Seating is limited. Reservations required.
Please call NPT at 508-228-1387 to reserve your seats.
Sunday, June 12 at 6:00 pm
Seating is limited. Reservations are not required.
“Artists Rick and Laura Brown are not Jewish and not Polish, and yet they set out to rebuild Gwoździec, one of the magnificent 18th-century wooden synagogues of Poland, the last of which were destroyed by Nazis during World War II. Their vision inspires hundreds of people to join them. Using their hands, old tools and techniques they rediscover Gwoździec’s history, culture, and art.
Raise the Roof follows the Browns and the Handshouse Studio team to Sanok, Poland, as they begin building the new Gwoździec roof. The crew has six weeks to hew, saw, and carve 200 freshly logged trees and assemble the structure. Working against this deadline and despite torrential downpours and exhaustion, the team must create the structure, and disassemble it again for shipping and eventual installation.
To paint the intricate ceiling murals, the Browns face another challenge: the 1914 photographs of Gwoździec are black and white and there is only one, partial color study. Using that as their Rosetta Stone, the Browns slowly build a library of Gwoździec’s colors.
Armed with pigments and stacks of wooden boards, the team sets up to paint the ceiling mural in what seems to be an art gallery in Rzeszów, Poland. In fact, this building and those in seven other Polish cities where they will work during the summers of 2011 and 2012, are all former or active masonry synagogues. Each Handshouse-trained painting leader is tasked with creating the mural’s most iconic images and training students to paint thousands of flowers and vines.
Although Rick and Laura Brown chose to rebuild the Gwoździec because it was one of the best documented, the historic material they found was spotty. Many questions about the synagogue were left unanswered:
What sparked this period of profuse and energetic construction and painting?
Why were the Jews of this time willing to break the Second Commandment prohibition against graven images in decorating this building?
What cultural and artistic movements inspired artists to create these resplendent spaces?
Raise the Roof takes us on this journey of discovery.”
For the first “Friday Find” post of 2016 we wanted to share with you information that will help encourage more easement contributions.
This “FIND” may give you a new reason to consider placing a preservation easement on your historic property on island. On December 18, 2015 President Obama signed a new tax bill that includes 22 tax breaks. One of the 22 makes permanent the Federal Conservation Tax Deduction, which allows property owners to deduct all or part of the donated value of a historic preservation easement from their taxable Federal income. This enhanced incentive fixes the number of year’s donors can take a deduction from 6 to 16 years. Also, the maximum deduction one can take has increased from 30% of their Annual Gross Income (AGI) in any year to 50%. This enhancement is a great achievement for land conservationists and those in the historic preservation field, and most importantly those looking to place easements on their property. If you are interested in learning more about preservation easements and the NPT easement program please contact our Executive Director, Michael May for more information.
As we step into the new year it’s a time to look at the past. Below are three properties, which we found but unfortunately no longer exist. It is our hope you will join us in 2016 by working to
preserve our past for the future!
The Geodesic Dome
Situated off Cliff Road adjoining the Tupancy Links, this unusual structure was built by Dr. Richard Morgan of South Lincoln, Massachusetts, in 1960. (Curiously, nearby in Lincoln, was the home of Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School.) A newspaper account at the time described Nantucket’s Geodesic Dome as “a most unusual and modernistic type house now being assembled by local builder James Lamb of Wauwinet.” That year, professional photographer Michael Vaccaro photographed its construction and the completed house for Look magazine. Geodesic-dome houses were still rare at the time – Buckminster Fuller had patented the house type in 1954 (although the concept originated in 1922 in Germany). It was not until after the 1964 World’s Fair that the geodesic-dome house became popular nationwide, reaching its peak production in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The house on Cliff Road was demolished in 2002.
The “Pink House”
Today the island has strict exterior restrictions regulated by the Historic District Commission (HDC). Included in these restrictions are eleven approved exterior paint colors, none of which are pink. The house was owned by Elizabeth “Siki” Wagley Lucas Evans and located at 260 Polpis Road. Today it’s exterior paint would not pass HDC regulations. The owner must have been a fan of pink, as you can see in the photo below even the interior was pink! The historic property is one that was lost after being sold in the late 90’s.
Monument Square Grocery
Monument Square Grocery, built by Robert McCleave between 1869 (the year he bought the property) and 1887 (the year of the first Sandborn Insurance Co. map of Nantucket). James B. Coffin ran a grocery business at this location, advertised in the 1897 Nantucket Directory; it was Whittemore Gardner who named his business Monument Square Grocery in 1907. The grocery store, which in the past was located at 106 Main Street sadly no longer exists. In 2001 the building was demolished but not without a fight! The photo below highlights passionate preservationists who attempted to block the demolish of the property.
Start the new year on the right foot by showing your support of Nantucket’s architectural heritage. Without the support of our members we would not be able to continue our mission to:
“Preserve Nantucket’s architectural heritage for present and future generations”
We found a fun and festive way you can support the NPT tonight, Friday December, 18th. The NPT is one of several non-profits to be included in the Dreamland Theater’s “Give bACK Movie Night” special screening series, which runs October through May. This evening the Dreamland Theater will be screening Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip starting at 6pm. A $1.50 of every ticket sold to the designated screening will be donated from the NPT. Spread the word and enjoy a fun night, while supporting the NPT!
Look who we found on island, Chris O’Reilly and his fellow North Bennet Street School (NBSS), Preservation Carpentry classmates! For those who are not aware, O’Reilly is our first full-time scholarship recipient and is currently underway in his second, and final year attending the NBSS’s Preservation Carpentry program in Boston’s North End. Recently he returned home to the island with his classmates for a two-week stay and worked on two historic properties.
The Nantucket Cottage Hospital Thrift Shop located at 17 India Street (NPT easement property) received a grant from the CPC to restore the building’s fabric. O’Reilly and his fellow classmates were able to partake in this restoration process by making plumb one side of the building’s wall, which had buckled.
The group was also able to work on their timber framing skills at 12 Liberty Street or better known as the Macy-Christian House, owned by the Nantucket Historical Association.
Learn more about our scholarship program by clicking here and to learn more about the NBSS, Preservation Carpentry program click here.
If you’re in the market to purchase a historic Nantucket house, we may have found one for you! A new listing came on the market, 32 India Street. Listed for $2,495,000 the historic Nantucket house has four bedrooms, two full baths, one half baths, parking and even a cute little yard! Below is an excerpt featuring the history of 32 India Street from the NPT Neighborhood Book Series titled: Off Centre: The Wesco Acre Lots.
“In 1803, mariner Peleg West bought the land at 32 India Street for $350. He went to sea, and his wife, Elizabeth, who held a power of attorney for her husband, sold the land – along with “our part of the dwelling house in which we now live which descended to us from our honoured father Thomas Bunker late of Nantucket, deceased, being the two west chambers and a privilege in the garret and cellar and yard” – to Peleg’s father, Charles, a ship carpenter, for $725. Charles sold the property back to Peleg, for the same price, in 1807. The sale to Charles may have been a way for Elizabeth to have some cash on hand while she and her two young daughters, living in her father’s house, waited for Peleg to return; a successful voyage allowed him to repay his father and build a new house at 32 India, where the family lived until 1815, when they sold it for $1,600 to mariner Calvin Bunker.
It may have been blacksmith Benjamin Knowles who added the Greek Revival elements to the house in the 1930s; his deed to Henry Ingman DeFriez in 1837 refers to “the same premises which I now improve.” Greek Revival doorways and proticos had become the popular architectural fashion statement of hte day on Nantucket, and must have kept carpenters busy crafting the embellishments for the houses of the well-to-do. Few on the island were on solid financial footing in the 1860’s, however, when the economy failed due to the demise of the whaling industry. DeFriez sold the house at 32 India Street for $750 in 1866, to confectioner Francis B. Washburn, who managed to get only $400 for the property when he sold it three years later.”
July marked a big turning point for the NPT; saying goodbye to longtime board members and welcoming two new members. It’s always sad to see board members depart, however we are happy to say all are still strong supporters and forces behind our mission. Departing members are: Kathy Arvay, Christopher Mortenson, Thomas Richards, Nancy Forster and Ethan McMorrow. The past board members were all asked the same question and we found their responses worthy of sharing. Read below for their response to the question,
“What do you feel was the most important accomplishment or contribution you achieved during your time as an NPT board member and if not something you specifically accomplished, something the organization did?”
Nancy Forster (2003 – 2015)
“I am honored to have served on a board as dedicated and hard-working as the NPT. The organization has grown significantly since I joined the board in 2003, both in terms of the breadth of its programs and in the depth of support among private individuals and business sponsors. There seems to be a heightened awareness of the importance of preserving Nantucket’s architectural heritage but there is still much to be done and time is not on our side. I look forward to continuing to help the NPT in any way that I can in the years to come.”
Kathy Arvay (2009 – 2015)
“As chair of events for 6 years I think I helped the NPT to develop the annual Kitchen Tours and Fetes into more successfull and interesting events. The greatest achievement was reaching out to other communities on the island to make new friends and hopefully gain new members, It was very rewarding to see the organization grow exponentially in those 6 years.”
Christopher Mortenson (2003 – 2015)
“I think our biggest accomplishment was the awards program. It raised our visibility in the community and also improved our image from people who object to things to a group that celebrates doing things right.”
Thomas Richards (2009 – 2015)
“A solid financial foundation is critical to NPT’s ability to deliver on its mission. While the treasurer doesn’t raise the funds, it’s job is to safeguard those assets to assure sufficient resources are available to achieve organization goals. During my six years with the board, we implemented a forecasting regimen that added clarity to our financial status, allowed us to establish an operating reserve and provided for a board-sponsored contribution to our scholarship fund.”