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NPT Assumes Administration of 31 Western Avenue Preservation Restriction

In a unanimous decision on Wednesday, October 14, the Nantucket Select Board voted to reassign the enforcement and management of the preservation restriction at 31 Western Avenue, the former Star of the Sea Youth Hostel, from the Nantucket Historic District Commission to Nantucket Preservation Trust.

The Star of the Sea Youth Hostel. Courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.

Hostelling International compacted with the Town of Nantucket to place a preservation restriction, also known as a preservation easement, on the property in 2007. The restriction protects the historic character of the property. The main building was built as a lifesaving station in 1874.  The iconic Stick style structure was the first of four lifesaving stations build on Nantucket, and it is the last that survives. It served as a lifesaving station until 1921.

The federal government retained ownership of the site until 1962, when Lilye Mason, a longtime housemother for  American Youth Hostels, Inc. successfully bid to purchase the property and convert it for use into a hostel. In 1963, Ms. Mason sold the property to American Youth Hostels, Inc., now known as Hostelling International.

The property operated as a hostel until 2019. In August 2020, Hostelling International announced their intentions to sell the property and in September announced Blue Flag Partners as the winning bidders. The sale closed on Tuesday, October 6.  The preservation restriction at 31 Western Avenue protects the main lifesaving station building, a historic cottage, and a former stable that was converted into an additional hostel dormitory.  The restriction exists to protect the architectural, historic, and cultural features of the buildings at 31 Western Avenue. Under the preservation restriction, there can be no changes to the exterior appearance of the historic buildings without approval of NPT and the HDC. Any construction of new buildings or relocation of the existing buildings would also require approval.

Blue Flag Partners has announced intentions to develop the site in keeping with its historic hostel past. The transfer of the enforcement and management responsibilities of the preservation restriction from the Historic District Commission to Nantucket Preservation Trust, which holds 25 other preservation restrictions, will allow for an additional layer of preservation-minded review to any proposed changes to the Star of the Sea. NPT looks forward to ensuring the stewardship of these important historic buildings for generations to come.

4 Traders Lane – Buying a Home with a Preservation Easement

“Traders was not what I was looking for, but I stumbled upon it,” Ed Mills says of the Peleg Bunker house at 4 Traders Lane. Ed and his wife had been riding their bikes around the island and seen an ad for 4 Trader’s Lane. They biked past the house and stopped to take a look. “At that moment, Mr. Gosh came outside and said, “Hey, do you want to buy a house?” He invited us in, we walked around, and the seed was planted. My natural instinct to want to fix up the building came to the surface,” Ed says.

4 Traders Lane, 2020

The former owners of the house, Bob and Billi Gosh, had the thoughtful foresight to place a preservation easement on 4 Traders, preserving the exterior and some of the interior in perpetuity.

Ed has spent much of his life working with houses, and his family ties on Nantucket go back to his grandparents. On his mother’s side the family once owned the Wireless Cottage in ’Sconset. “My grandmother on my mother’s side was coming to Nantucket in the late 1920s and early 1930s and took an interest in protecting Nantucket’s history. That was part of my childhood.”

On his father’s side, it was Ed’s paternal grandfather who, upon his return from World War II, had a cabin built on Hinkley Lane. Ed’s grandfather and aunt built a second cabin in 1973. These beach cabins were simple—no insulation, no interior walls, made of eastern white pine. Ed’s family enjoyed many summers on Hinkley Lane.

“Nantucket has been a constant in my life,” Ed says. “The thought of doing one more big project that has more of a restoration quality to it was attractive.” Ed and his sister purchased the house at 4 Traders’ lane. His sister works for a preservation land bank in Western New York, so both Mills are concerned with saving places.

“As we dug into it and learned more about it, we learned it had an easement on it,” Ed explains, “At first it was a concern, but as we considered it, it became less so. It’s a historic building and should be protected. 4 Traders Lane has an incredible history—it’s clearly a building you’d want to work with as opposed to try to modify. That has its own challenges, but I don’t see why, with a little bit of effort, creativity, and planning, a 250-year-old house can’t maintain its historical significance yet be appealing to a modern owner.

“Nantucket is a wonderful place, and I’d like to help keep it that way,” Ed says. We are excited to see how the Traders Lane project progresses.


This article originally appeared in the 2020 edition of Ramblings.

Codfish Park and 10 Beach Street

Fish houses and bank, 1870s. Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) image.

Tucked away on the far eastern edge of Nantucket, Codfish Park is one of the island’s most interesting neighborhoods. Codfish Park did not actually exist until the late 19th Century. The beach below the ’Sconset bank was narrow and precarious. The October Gale of 1841 undercut ’Sconset’s bank, causing several houses to give way to the sea. Other houses were moved out of harm’s way to other areas of the village.

In the decades following the October Gale, the beach accreted naturally. Soon, the beach became an area for boat storage and fishing shacks. This land below the bank belonged to Henry Coffin, who deeded it to the Proprietors of Nantucket in 1886. Three trustees were given the power to regulate the beach.

Men playing the banjo and fiddle outside a Codfish Park shanty, c. 1890. (NHA image.)

This land was to be used to public enjoyment, and one of the stipulations of Coffin’s deed was that “no building or other obstruction of any kind be erected or maintained on the premises, except bath houses, to be used as such.” The beach grew quickly, tripling in size in three decades. It wasn’t long before fishermen erected cottages, shacks, and drying racks.

Continue reading Codfish Park and 10 Beach Street

Preservation Resources for Staying at Home

With the news that Governor Baker has extended Massachusetts’ stay at home order to May 18, you may be looking for more ways to fill your time. Luckily, May is National Preservation Month, and there are many preservation-related activities you can undertake while you stay home!

The Society of Architectural Historians maintains SAH Archipedia, a nation-wide collection of peer-reviewed resources to learn more about architectural styles in the US, and specific buildings.

Archipedia New England was founded to be a resource of 400 years of New England architecture. Archipedia New England’s founding editor is Brian Pfeiffer, a longtime partner of NPT, and the site features contributions from many other members of the Nantucket preservation community.

Looking for something to listen to? Podcast fans will appreciate this list of 11 Podcasts Great for Fans of Historic Preservation Fans put together by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

For families, the National Trust also published this list of 13 Virtual Ways to Edutain Kids about History and Preservation, which features resources from historic sites and museums from across the United States.

If you would like to research the history of your own home, there are resources online that can help you. Although the Town of Nantucket’s Registry of Deeds is currently closed to the public, records from the registry are digitized dating back to 1931, or Book 106. These records can be accessed at masslandrecords.com/Nantucket. Deeds are searchable by name, street name, or book and page number.

Searching in the registry of deeds to reveal the former owners of a house opens up possibilities for searching beyond the registry. The Nantucket Atheneum’s Digital Historic Newspaper Archive allows users to search issues of more than twenty island newspapers, including the Inquirer and Mirror dating back to 1821. Consider searching past owner’s names to reveal their occupations or family members. Searching by street name or house name can also turn up results. The archives of the Nantucket Historical Association are also online, including thousands of historic photos and maps, like Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Nantucket Town and ‘Sconset, from 1889 to 1949. A new search interface makes it easy to search across the NHA’s various collections, from images, to letters and historic documents, to material culture objects.

If you are considering a undertaking a preservation project on Nantucket, why not use this time to familiarize yourself with the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits in Massachusetts, or the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation? These are the guidelines that must be followed for projects to qualify for rehabilitation tax credits in Massachusetts.

As always, though we may not be working from our usual offices, Nantucket Preservation Trust is here as a resource for your preservation-related questions and concerns. Contact us at info@nantucketpreservation.org for more information.

The Nantucket Dream Dollhouse

Every year, Nantucket Preservation Trust’s Sense of Place Exhibition and Auction offers bidders the chance to win unique, hand created items from dozens of Nantucket makers and artisans. Among these special auction items this year will be the Nantucket Dream Dollhouse. Volunteers led by Gussie Beaugrand, Beth Davies, Barbara Halsted, and Michael Sweeney have been spending countless hours creating a representation of a Nantucket house that models modern living in a historic home. The completed dollhouse will have three bedrooms and sleep nine, with custom hand-dyed gray shingles; hand painted walls, clapboards, and trim; tiny curtains; and custom furniture. Thank you to the volunteers who made this unique project possible!

Nantucket Dream Dollhouse By the Numbers

Sidewall shingles: 10,528

Roof shingles:  2,296

Lineal inches of clapboard: 450

Lineal inches of baseboard: 234

Lineal inches of window trim: 215

Window sashes: 26

Shutters: 10

An Interview with Colin Evans 

An Interview with Colin Evans 

Originally published in the 2019 issue of Ramblings magazine.

If you have been to the Nantucket Preservation Awards ceremony in recent years, you might have already met Colin Evans. In just six years on Nantucket, Colin has already made a name for himself as a craftsman with a solid grounding in historic preservation. He’s worked on numerous award-winning projects alongside master craftsman like Pen Austin and Michael Gault, and recently established his own business—Colin Evans Preservation and Restoration. With a hand in everything from timber frame repair to masonry and lime plaster work, Colin approaches a project with a whole-house understanding.

Originally from New Hampshire, Colin arrived on the island late one summer. With a background in mechanics, he secured work at the docks. But when the rest of the summer crowds left, Colin stayed and began working with Pen Austin. “In my life before,” Colin says, “everything I knew was modern, but I took a liking to traditional materials.” Colin stresses the importance of the on-the-job training he received while apprenticing with Pen. There are some lessons you just won’t learn in any classroom.

It wasn’t long before Colin saw that the island’s historic structures were threatened. “Even in those first few years, I saw building material get lost and destroyed on Nantucket,” he says. Recalling the demolition of 27 Easy Street, he says, “I saw a perfectly fine structure that was destroyed.”

In speaking with Colin, it is clear he has a real reverence for the past and for the work of those who came before him. He wonders what his historic counterparts might have thought when they encountered a new hand tool—objects that seem old fashioned to us today were at one time technological innovations. How long did it take for new technologies to reach the faraway island?

 

While Colin can’t talk directly to the people who originally constructed or even repaired the properties he works on, they’ve left clues to be decipher. “You can see the repairs, their thought process,” he says, recalling a recent project on Fair Street. And despite the centuries that span between Colin and the work of the original craftsman, he considers the rhythms of island life that link them. He knows what it is like to work in terrible weather, to wait for the boats to start running again, and to dig out from a sudden April snow squall.

It should come as no surprise that someone as curious as Colin makes for a great instructor. Colin has led traditional building demonstrations for North Bennet Street School students, and those just entering the field often seek Colin out to learn more. Educating the homeowner about the importance of historic building materials, their history and their care, is an important part of preservation and one Colin enjoys

With projects from Main Street in town to Broadway in ’Sconset, you may have already admired Colin Evans’ work.

Contact Colin Evans Preservation and Restoration, LLC by visiting www.ceprllc.com.

Annual August Fête Tickets Now Available!

 

Nantucket Preservation Trust’s August Fête is one of the summer’s most memorable evenings. This annual celebration of the island’s historic architecture and neighborhoods always sells out with more than 300 guests.

Imagine an elevated block party with Nantucket’s best caterers, libations, and raw bar, coupled with a chance to peek inside some of the island’s most unique historic homes. This year’s Broadway Revival Fête will take place in ’Sconset and honor the village’s historic actors’ colony and the golden age of the silent screen.

This year, we’re excited to travel to ‘Sconset. Tickets are on sale now! 

A Stroll Down Old North Wharf

Old North Wharf was originally built in 1770, following the construction of Straight Wharf in 1723 and Old South Wharf in the 1760s.

The original structures on Old North Wharf were all destroyed during the fire of 1846. By the 1870s, the area was bustling again with fishing and sailing. In the early 20th century, many of the warehouses, fishing shanties, boat building workshops, and carpenter’s shops were converted to artists’ studios, summer cottages, and “picnic houses.”

Join us on a digital stroll down Old North Wharf…

2 Old North Wharf: Barzillai Burdett, boat builder, c. 1856. Burdett built whaleboats, row boats, and small catboats in this shop. In 1887, he built the catboat Dauntless, which he used to ferry bathers from town to cliffside beaches.

4 Old North Wharf: While other working buildings have been converted to resort cottages, this warehouse remains a reminder of Nantucket’s working waterfront.

12 Old North Wharf (Mary F. Slade): Just where did the name Mary F. Slade come from? The Mary F. Slade was a three mast barque of 199 tons, 95 feet long, built in 1848 at a shipyard in Scituate Harbor. She was made of oak and iron and copper fastened. No details of how or when she was lost, or how her quarterboard reached Nantucket, but it is assumed she was lost on the a shoal off Nantucket.

10 Old North Wharf: Austin Strong Boathouse, 1923. Commodore, artist, playwright, and philanthropist Austin Strong was a colorful character—you’d have to be to be the man behind the Rainbow Fleet, step-grandson of Robert Louis Stevenson, and friend to puppeteer Tony Sarg. Strong was the first person on Old North Wharf to turn a fishing shanty into a boathouse—or more specifically, a “land yacht.”

18 Old North Wharf (Wharf Rat Club): This building was originally used for culling quahogs, then became a fishermen’s supply store. People started gathering to swap stories and hang around the shop, and by 1927 the Wharf Rat Club was established. Rats still tell stories there today, and there are no fees or official meetings. The only requisite for membership is the ability to tell a good story.

The cottages Lydia, Independence, Constitution/John Jay, Enterprise, and Nautilus were all named after whaling ships that belonged to brothers Charles and Henry Coffin. (Herman Melville’s one whaling voyage was aboard the Coffin-owned whaleship Charles & Henry.)

8 Old North Wharf (Essex, formerly Charles & Henry): Silvester Hodges Carpenter Shop. The buildings on Old North Wharf represent the evolution of Nantucket—from scallop shanties to carpenters’ shops to boat building workshops to artists’ studios to summer cottage, these structures changed with the island.

 

11 Old North Wharf (Enterprise): A boat storage and maintenance building from 1920 until the 1950s, Enterprise became a summer cottage in the 1960s.

 

There are lots more cottages to explore, as we find more information, we’ll update this post!

Mary’s Favorite Instagram Accounts for Island Architectural Photography

 

From rose-covered-cottages to lighthouses to grand summer homes, Nantucket’s architecture is a photographer’s dream. This week, I’m sharing my favorite Instagram accounts. Be sure to follow them—and us!—to keep an eye on Nantucket, wherever your travels take you this fall.

Dirk and Sharon Van Lieu, the team behind Nantucket Architecture, often seek out some of the island’s lesser-known gems, like this Dionis cottage, to share with followers. As we head into the fall, their off-season photography especially is hauntingly beautiful.

 

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Amanda Amaral is a photographer originally from Texas, but has called Nantucket home for more than five years. Her work often includes architectural details, bathed in exquisite light. Follow her to see the island change with the seasons.

 

Grandeur Nantucket photographs (and finds and shares photos of) some of Nantucket’s grandest and most iconic homes–or homes that were stately in their time (like this shot of 6 Gull Island Lane).  Follow along for vibrant colors and fun facts about Nantucket’s history.

Longtime Nantucket resident Josh Gray’s atmospheric photos will instantly remind you to why the island is called “The Gray Lady.” A writer, too, Josh often combines quotes from literature with his photos.

 

Finally, there’s us, the Nantucket Preservation Trust! We love sharing the stories of Nantucket’s unique architectural heritage. Be sure to tag us in your photos of Nantucket architecture so we can see all the great photos you’re taking, too!