Preservation Update

Announcing the 2018 Preservation Award Winners

This year’s call for Preservation Award nominations resulted in more nominees than ever before! After much deliberation, our committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 Preservation Awards.

A hearty congratulations to all the recipients, and many thanks to the numerous thoughtful nominations we received. Preservation is possible!

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 longtime member 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.

 

 

Nantucket Historic Interiors Survey: We Need Your Help!

 

You may already know that Nantucket boasts one of the largest concentrations of pre-Civil War era buildings in the country, with more than 800 such structures. While much work has gone into preserving the island’s exteriors, what interiors have been preserved—and what’s been gutted—has largely remained behind closed doors.

Until now! Thanks to the NPT and the University of Florida’s Preservation Institute Nantucket (PIN), some of these doors are opening for the first time as part of an unprecedented Historic Interiors Survey, funded by a grant from Nantucket’s Community Preservation Committee.

So far, the two organizations have collected information regarding more than half of the historic buildings on the island. The survey is expected to be completed later this year, but it has already identified nearly 300 houses that are in an excellent state of preservation or retain quite a bit of their original interior fabric. Over 100 structures surveyed have been heavily altered or gutted. Unfortunately, that number will only increase as time goes on, as the Nantucket is losing as estimated 20 or more historic interiors per year.

Architectural authenticity is a large part of the reason people love to live, visit, and vacation on Nantucket. Losing a historic interior is like tearing out pages from a novel—the more you lose, the less the story makes sense. People come to Nantucket for the same reason people travel to see great works of art—there is nothing like standing in front of the real thing.

When completed, the Nantucket Historic Interiors Survey will be the most extensive of its kind. It celebrates the work of homeowners, architects, and builders who put preservation at the forefront of their projects, but it reminds us there is much work ahead to educate future islanders and visitors.

We hope that 100 years from now, this survey will be used to measure Nantucket’s dedication to the people who came before us.

Now that spring is here and houses are opening up, we need your help! If you own a historic house but have not yet talked to the NPT about the inventory, please contact us today at 508-228-1387 to talk about your house!

“Decisions in Preservation” Case Study: 6 Gull Island Lane

Built sometime after 1784, 6 Gull Island Lane was originally part of the Thomas Gardner estate. Gardner likely built it for his daughter Hannah (1782-1809) at the time of her marriage to Josiah Sheffield and remained in the Sheffield family until 1892.

In 2015, 6 Gull Island Lane was purchased by new owners, who have generously offered their house to be part of our 2018 Symposium. A new phase is about to begin for this antique.

A house like 6 Gull Island presents many challenges and opportunities for homeowners, architects, and builders alike. We are anticipating a fascinating conversation and looking forward to sharing this important building with you and following its progress.

Ready to register for the symposium workshop? Click here.

Letter to the Editor Regarding Pending Demolition of Jacobs House

This letter originally appeared in the March 1, 2018 issue of the Inquirer and Mirror. 

We are sad to report that the Jacobs House was demolished on March 6, 2018.

Jacobs House February 2018

HDC guidelines for demolitions need to be updated

To the Editor: Soon, Madaket is likely to lose another
unique structure, this time an important example of
mid-20th Century architecture. Unlike other homes in
Madaket, the Jacobs House at 31 Starbuck Road will
not fall victim to the western shore’s rapidly eroding
coast line, but instead to a flaw in our system of
approvals and permits which stems from a lack of
understanding about the need to protect the next
generation of Nantucket landmarks. The history of
many buildings is undocumented and, as it stands,
there is no burden on the owner and/or applicant to
provide a professional, unbiased assessment on the
historic or architectural importance of a structure prior
to HDC approval for demolition.

Jacobs House, February 2018

The Jacobs House, built in 1968 (now half a century
ago), was designed by renowned Boston architect
Frederick “Tad” Stahl (1931-2013), working with
former owner, artist and architecture student Marjorie
Jacobs. Stahl was best known for his work on the State
Street Bank, the restorations of Quincy Market and the
Old State House (all in Boston), and for designing over
25 community libraries in Massachusetts.The Jacobs
House is one of only two dwellings Stahl designed in
his entire career.

House Beautiful magazine, 1970

There is no question that the Jacobs House is unique.
Anyone seeing it realizes it is different than most
Nantucket houses. At the time of construction, many
felt it was out of character with the island’s historic
architecture. But times change and in the past decade
communities throughout the country have embraced
landmarks of the 20th century. Today the Jacobs House
is one of the prime examples of mid-century modern
architecture on island. House Beautiful thought so as
well and profiled it in a 1970 issue, describing it as
“Commanding a wild stretch of beach like an ancient
citadel.” And in the 1960 and 1970s, Madaket was
Nantucket’s wild west, home to surfers and artists, to
Millie and Mr. Rogers. The Jacobs House represents an
important moment in Nantucket’s history, when one
could take a risk, when the peaked roofs of a summer
house mimicked the ocean’s roaring waves.

Jacobs House interior 1970, courtesy Jacobs Family.

Stahl embraced contemporary designs, but was, above
all, a preservationist. Perhaps it is this fact that makes
the pending loss of the Jacobs House so distressing.
The HDC was established to protect the historic
architecture of Nantucket, and a significant building,
even one constructed in 1968, is part of that history. In
this instance, the Commission was not presented with,
nor did they gather all the facts before voting 5-0 to
allow for the demolition of the structure.

Nantucket has already lost many architecturally
interesting 20th Century structures (a house designed
by Philip Johnson and an early Buckminster Fuller
inspired house to name a few) and will lose more.
Their relatively recent dates makes it easy to dismiss
them but saving the best of the era, any era, is
important.

We urge the HDC to make changes in their
system to better document and to gather all the facts
about a building’s past before demolitions are
approved. In many communities a preservationist on
the HDC staff is charged with undertaking historic
research, but when town resources are unavailable to
complete this work it should be the burden of an
applicant to prove that a structure, regardless of the
date it was built, is not of historic or architectural
importance if they desire to demolish it. Doing so
would enhance the HDC’s mission to protect all of
Nantucket’s historic architecture.

Michael May, Executive Director

& Mary Bergman

Nantucket Preservation Trust

Mizpah | Boston-Higginbotham House

Boston-Higginbotham House in 2018.

The residents of 27 York Street have always been ahead of their time.

Seneca Boston, a weaver and former slave, purchased land at 27 York Street in 1744—a full decade before slavery was abolished in Massachusetts. The house Boston had built for his wife, a Wampanoag woman named Thankful Micha, and their six children is a rare example of a middle-class African-American home in the 18th Century on Nantucket.

Seneca and Thankful’s son, Absalom Boston, was one of Nantucket’s most famous residents. Absalom was a whaling captain with an all-black crew. When his daughter, Phebe Ann, was barred from the Nantucket public schools, Absalom successfully sued the town government to integrate the school in 1845, resulting in changes at the state level. Seneca’s brother, Prince Boston, was the first enslaved person in Massachusetts to successfully sue for his freedom and his wages earned as a whaleman.

Interior of Boston-Higginbotham House, 2018.

Apart from less than one year, the house has been continuously owned by members of the Black community on Nantucket, and until 1919, by descendants of Seneca Boston.

In 1920, the house on 27 York Street was purchased by Florence E. Clay Higginbotham. Originally from Virginia, Florence Clay worked in Boston and went to cooking school. She traveled to Nantucket with friends in 1911 to work in ‘Sconset for the summer. When summer was over, she stayed. In 1917, she married Robert D. Higginbotham, also of ‘Sconset, but their marriage was short-lived.

Florence Higginbotham met the widow Evelyn Underhill, who owned a cottage colony in ‘Sconset, in 1920. That same year, Higginbotham purchased the former Boston home as an investment.

Interior of Boston-Higginbotham House, 2018.

Underhill hired Higginbotham to take over management of the cottages. When Higginbotham had a son, William, in 1921, the two moved into Evelyn Underhill’s cottage. Other black workers did not live with their employers, but rather in shanties in Codfish Park. The three lived in ‘Sconset in the summer and Waltham in the winter.

After the stock market crash of 1929, Underhill lost many of her investments. After a few years of living year-round in ‘Sconset, the two women and William moved into Higginbotham’s home on York Street. The women read poetry, listened to jazz records, and socialized with each other. However, when Evelyn Underhill’s friends came to call, Florence Higginbotham was to retreat to the back quarters of her own house.

In 1933, Higginbotham purchased the African Meeting House next door. During the 1930s and 1940s, she rented it out as storage and once as studio space for an artist.

 

African Meeting House in 2018.

The house was added to in 1830 and 1940, but nothing was taken away. The house retains much of its original 18th century fabric. Now owned by the African American Museum Boston-Nantucket, the Boston-Higginbotham is undergoing careful restorations. A preservation easement will protect the house for the future.

Interior of Boston-Higginbotham House, 2018.

Florence named her house Mizpah, a Hebrew word meaning beacon or watchtower, and lived there until her death in 1972.

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 https://dcp.ufl.edu/historic-preservation/envision-heritage-/initiative 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.


FRIDAY, MARCH 18


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


SATURDAY, MARCH 19


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  
4PM
Grimke biographer Louise Knight offers insights into their life
Nantucket Atheneum, 1 India Street.


SUNDAY, MARCH 20


FINALE!
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
m.holden@nantucketpreservation.org

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
m.holden@nantucketpreservation.org

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: http://www.motownmuseum.org/

-Marisa Holden
Marketing and Events Director, NPT
m.holden@nantucketpreservation.org