Moving houses on Nantucket is a tradition dating back to the early 1700s when buildings in the original Sherburne settlement were moved to new lots laid out near the Great Harbor. Today houses are still moved often to make way for another structure on a lot, to save them from erosion along the shoreline or to provide for new foundations and/or basements. This winter at least four cottages in the heart of ‘Sconset along Shell and Center Streets will be lifted and a circa 1990s secondary cottage moved to a new location closer to Town.
Properties in the Old Historic Districts will be heard in the beginning of each Historic District Commission meeting (Tuesday’s at 5:00 p.m.) starting this month. This is good news for owners of historic properties as well as neighbors and community boards. Residents in the historic core will be able to attend meetings for multiple properties in their neighborhood without having to sit through the entire review meetings. In the past applications were heard according to the time applications were submitted. So gone are the days when review of projects affecting historic properties in one neighborhood were heard hours apart. We believe this important step will not only encourage residents to attend the meetings, but also help the commissioners focus much of their discussion on the island’s historic buildings.
The Nantucket Historical Association’s 1800 House located at 4 Mill Street will be the 16th property on island permanently protected by a NPT preservation easement. The preservation restriction will be up for a vote at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on November 16. The easement will be placed on exterior features and restricts further development of the property. Historic research indicates the house was constructed between 1801 and 1807 by housewright Richard Lake Coleman, who built the structure according to a traditional floor plan and scale characteristic of New England domestic architecture of the period. In 1807 Coleman sold the house to Jeremiah Lawrence, “hatter” and High Sheriff of the County of Nantucket, who occupied the house with his wife and four children until his death in 1827. It remained in the Lawrence family until 1859.
The long awaited update to the Nantucket Historic District Landmark designation was unanimously approved on November 10 by the National Park System Advisory Board Landmarks Committee in Washington, D.C. The report, prepared by the Nantucket Preservation Trust with funds from the Community Preservation Committee, began in 2007. The three year plus study includes a comprehensive analysis of the island’s architectural heritage and area of national significance. With this important hurdle now complete the update will proceed to the National Park Service for final revisions and formal approved by the Secretary of the Interior–expected in 2012. Although the old historic core and Sconset were recognized as a National Landmarks as early as 1966, when the program was first implemented by the Federal government, and landmark status was updated in 1975 to include the entire island, the designation did not recognize a significant part of the island’s history, namely its development in the late 19th and early 20th century as a resort community and the island’s critical role in the country’s preservation movement. With the acceptance of the update, these key elements of the island’s historic significance will be formally recognized.
National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction. The majority of NHL properties are individual buildings or resources. Nantucket is one of only a handful of communities which is entirely a NHL district. The program is the highest honor for historic properties and communities in the nation, and is meant to encourage and promote preservation activity. NHL designation has also been shown to help increased tourism and Main Street revitalization. Other benefits include qualification for historic properties in grant and tax credit programs, preservation easements programs, and release of building code requirements that can have a negative impact on historic fabric.