Preservation Update

Martins Lane – Latest Update

Though there is widespread community support to continue the fight to save Martins Lane, the Nantucket Board of Selectmen voted before last night’s meeting not to appeal the recent Superior Court ruling, thereby making the installation of a driveway on the historic byway one step closer.

The decision by the majority of the Board of Selectmen to abandon the fight to protect Martins Lane is disappointing in several ways.

More than 790 people signed an NPT petition asking the BOS to appeal the Superior Court’s flawed and unfortunate ruling, but the board refused to allow any discussion or public comment on the matter. The board majority also prevented individual selectmen from stating how they voted, or explaining their position to the public.

Unique historic resources like Martins Lane are too important to give up on. Nantucket loses a piece of its soul every time we allow something that makes this island special to be destroyed for personal gain.

We believe the Historic District Commission’s role is to serve as the public guardian of the history and sense of place that separates Nantucket from the rest, and we believe their decision in this matter was the correct one.

We thank the HDC for its often thankless work, and we urge our selectmen to join us to help protect Nantucket’s irreplaceable history and to find a preservation-minded solution to this important matter.

Rest assured, the NPT will continue its efforts to protect Martins Lane, and we know we can count on you to help.

SAVE MARTINS LANE – Online Petition

In May the Superior Court overturned the Nantucket Board of Selectmen’s affirmation of the Historic District Commission’s decision to protect historic Martins Lane, and without an appeal this charming one-block street in the heart of Nantucket’s historic core will be changed forever. Martins Lane is a destination and landmark in itself and we believe its historic elements and the street setting in general are features that help make the island special and are worth protecting for today and future generations.


May is Preservation Month

Citizens in Nantucket, MA will join thousands of individuals across the country to celebrate National Preservation Month this May. “Celebrating America’s Treasures” is the theme of the month-long celebration sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Since the National Trust for Historic Preservation created Preservation Week in 1971 to spotlight grassroots preservation efforts in America, it has grown into an annual celebration observed by small towns and big cities with events ranging from architectural and historic tours and award ceremonies, to fundraising events, educational programs and heritage travel opportunities. Due to its overwhelming popularity, in 2005, the National Trust for Historic Preservation extended the celebration to the entire month of May and declared it Preservation Month to provide an even longer opportunity to celebrate the diverse and unique heritage of our country’s cities and states and enable more Americans to become involved in the growing preservation movement

Here in Nantucket, Preservation Month 2011 will be celebrated with a variety of events and lectures hosted by several different organizations.  For more details on upcoming Preservation Events, please click here.

NPT Benefit Day

The Nantucket Preservation Trust has been chosen as a beneficiary of Nantucket Bookworks “Love Month.”  Each day in the month of February, Bookworks will donate 10% of their total proceeds to a local non-profit.  Bookworks is an independently owned bookstore that carries a wide variety of books, cards, gifts, toys and children’s items.  This is the perfect time to shop for a Valentine’s gift.

February 9th is NPT’s benefit day – please visit Bookworks on this date and help support two worthy groups, working year round on the island.  10% can make a big difference to a small organization such as ours.  We thank Bookworks for their generosity and thank our supporters for shopping local!

Click here for Bookworks website


Stroll Through Tony Sarg’s Former Home

Image Courtesy of N.H.A.

On Saturday, December 3 from 1- 4 pm, the Nantucket Preservation Trust will open a historic home for tours and host a small holiday boutique for unique gift items.

Located at 3 North Liberty Street, just minutes from the Pacific National Bank on Main Street, this historic home is best known for it’s most famous owner, Tony Sarg. He and his wife, Bertha, acquired the house in 1920, and owned it for twenty-two years. Tony was a well-known illustrator, author, toy-maker, and puppeteer. He designed the first mechanically animated display window for Macy’s Department Store in New York City, and created the first huge hot-air balloons for the store’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The current owners of this home have preserved it’s historic beauty and display many collectors items from Sarg’s prolific career. Trained docents will provide a brochure of the home’s history and point out interesting architectural notes.

This holiday tour is open to the public with a suggested donation of $5. For more information, contact the NPT office at 508 228 1387 or visit the web site at

3 North Liberty Street

Houses On The Move

Heads Up!

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.

HDC Implements New Review Process

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.

1800 House Preservation Restriction to Be Finalized

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.

Nantucket’s National Historic Landmark Update Gains Advisory Committee Approval

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.