4 Mill Street – The 1800 House

The 1800 House circa 1890 (photo courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association)

The Nantucket Historical Association’s 1800 House located at 4 Mill Street was the 16th property on island permanently protected by a NPT preservation easement. The easement is 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARumors say the property is haunted!

Friday Find: Historic Ghost Town!

800x600xjohnsonville9.jpg.pagespeed.ic.N7UqJ_J5ugIn honor of today’s holiday Halloween we’ve dug up a ghostly “Friday Find”! The village of Johnsonville, Connecticut located in East Haddam is a true historic ghost-town that has sat vacant for over 20 years. The village, dating back to 1830 has (even more creepy) been abandoned a total of three times! Some like to say today it is haunted by its past owner Raymond Schmitt, however there has been no ghost sightings or stories.

STARSHOLLOWIST14The 19th century village was originally owned by Emory Johnson and began as a thriving mill community. Due to modern ways of life the town’s work dried up and it became abandoned by 1950. It stayed vacant for approximately 10 years until in 1960 millionaire Raymond Schmitt purchased it. He had a goal to turn the village into a profitable tourist attraction and began working on restoring its appeal. During this time historic buildings were relocated to it including: the Victorian Gilead Chapel built circa 1876 and the one-room Hyde Schoolhouse (date not known). He hired carpenter, Tom Kronenberger to assist in restoring the village to a state suitable for tours, weddings and special event rentals. It stayed an attraction until again in 1994 when Schmitt decided to shut down the village after an argument with East Haddam. Schmitt died in 1998, his estate sold off properties and other items in the village and once again it became vacant. In 2008 a hotel developer took ownership, however it has remained vacant for the past 20 years. Sadly, the village is still home to several historic Colonial-style and Victorian-style properties inc4STARSHOLLOWIST14luding:


– The Gilead Chapel c.1876
– Emory Johnson Homestead c.1846
– Single family dwelling c.1900
– Colonial-style house c. 1846
– Office building c.1899
– Red House Restaurant c.1900
– The General Store c.1845
– The Gilbert Livery Stable c.1920

In a strategic move to sell a the ghost-town RM Bradley Company placed the village up for auction leading up to Halloween. With a starting bid of $800,000 the auction began this past Tuesday, October 28. The town is described as 8 contiguous parcels, 62-acres and permitted for the use of: family housing, senior housing, arts/entertainment center, B&B’s, inns, restaurant facilities, retail shops and schools. The auction closed yesterday, October, 30th. Maybe this time around the towns will have a better fate.

Nuts & Bolts: Bake Ovens

“Bake Ovens”
October 27 and October 31 Segment

bake oven 2Historically bake ovens were found in many island houses. Bake ovens were built into the fireplace structure in the main portion of the house, in rear kitchen ells or in basement summer kitchens. The earliest ovens were placed on the rear wall of the fireplace while later ones were found to the side for easy access and safety. This location change helped reduce accidents when leaning across an open fire. Death by fire associated with cooking remained the second leading cause of death for women throughout the 18th century.

Friday Find: “Pop-Up” Preservation!

Cincinnati Union Terminal


This “Friday Find” certainly popped up! The awareness of architectural preservation may now “Pop-Up” literally and figuratively. “Pop-Up” refers to a way artists, shop owners and awareness campaigns are reaching audiences. Vacant storefronts are now being turned into a temporary spot used to highlight specific products, issues or items. The locations are usually not advertised or expected creating an element of surprise for the viewer, hence the term pop-up.

IMG_0281-1024x682Yes on 8 Action Center in downtown Cincinnati is the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s first ever pop-up! The center’s goal is to spread awareness to save Cincinnati Union Terminal, one of cities most iconic landmarks. Issue 8 is an initiative that would help raise funds needed to restore Cincinnati Union Terminal, by adding one-quarter of one percent sales tax increase limited to five year to fund its restoration. The vote will take place on November 4th in Hamilton County and offer voters the chance to save the National Historic Landmark.

union-terminal-017The terminal was added to the National Treasure Program and The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2014. The terminal opened in 1933 and marked a milestone for the city’s transportation, quickly becoming an iconic landmark. It is also widely regarded for its art-deco style. Due to water damage and improper upkeep it is slowly deteriorating. Through the collaboration of The National Trust and My Union Terminal Campaign the “Yes on Action 8 Center” popped up this October at and is located at 511 Walnut Street in downtown Cincinnati.

The center is not only unique due to the fact it’s a “Pop-Up” but was also designed to be very interactive. Viewers can learn about the landmark by viewing hanging photographs taken off of Instagram, read or post memories to the story wall, pledge votes and of course leave with “Yes on 8” swag. Within the first week of opening the center reached approximately 1,500 people and hopes to reach out to at least 8,000. IMG_0259-1024x682The center is open Monday-Friday from 11AM – 6PM. Learn more click here

Seeking Administrative Assistant

hiringWe are currently seeking a positive, energetic person to fill the position of administrative assistant. The AA position will include: administrative support; database management; oversight of membership records; execution of event and program logistics under the supervision of staff and committee chairs; and general clerical duties such as correspondence, answering phones, and filing. Excellent computer skills and knowledge of Excel and Word is required.

The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in Nantucket historic architecture and hold a bachelors degree in a related field with work experience in the nonprofits sector. Salary is commensurate to experience. NPT is an equal opportunity employer. We offer benefits and will consider a flexible work schedule.

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume only by email to: info@nantucketpreservation.org

Ramblings: Insulation Tips

The excerpt below is from the 2014 Ramblings issue and features general rules for insulation. We are currently in the process of creating a resource guide focusing on issues prevalent to the island’s old houses, such as insulation. This guide will be available online for easy access. Stay tuned for more information.

ramblings photoInsulate the attic first. Heat rising through the attic and out the roof is a major source of heat loss and for many houses this step—along with window and door storms and weather-stripping—will be adequate for making your house comfortable and more energy efficient. If the attic space is not heated, insulating between the floor joists is typically the best solution. This will involve carefully taking up the floorboards and just as carefully reinstalling them.

Second, consider insulating from below—the basement and/or crawl space. Insulating these areas is complicated due to the possibility of trapping moisture, but proper installation of insulation can ensure a more comfortable living area and protection for the wood elements. In unfinished spaces without a furnace or heating source, insulation in the basement’s ceiling or first-level floor joists is possible. Vapor barriers should generally face upward to avoid trapping moisture in the insulation. In areas where there is a furnace or in a heated basement, ceiling insulation is usually not recommended. Adding a vapor barrier on the ground is also critical for crawl spaces and other areas where the ground is exposed beneath the house.

Don’t add wall insulation. It is surprising to most people, but insulating the exterior walls of a historic house on Nantucket is not recommended due to the high potential of trapping moisture in the wall and causing serious damage. In addition, there is a high cost for remediation when problems arise. Introducing insulation in wall cavities without a vapor barrier and adequate ventilation will lead to disaster—insulation will become saturated, lose its thermal properties and actually increase heat loss. Well-meaning property owners who add wall insulation also greatly increase the risk of doing more damage to their historic house and creating potential health risks. Trapping moisture in the cavity will advance rot and deterioration of wood elements that are not visible, such as sills, and can introduce mold. In addition, some blown-in installation has been known to damage building elements as it expands, including plaster keys that hold the historic plaster in place.
Wall insulation has been successfully installed during major renovations when vapor barriers and adequate air infiltration will be maintained or reintroduced. However, to preserve a building’s historic plaster, removal of the exterior shingles or clapboard is highly recommended to access the area and to repair any wood rot or damage. Damaging the interior plaster is not a preservation solution; plaster, unlike wallboard, “breathes” and with proper maintenance can survive for centuries—examples of this abound on Nantucket. Ensuring that an insulated wall area is well vented inside and out is critical, and in some cases dehumidifiers have been added to help ensure moisture is held in check. If wall insulation is still desired after knowing the risk and conducting an assessment, well-qualified professionals familiar with historic houses should be engaged to complete the work.

To read the complete 2014 issue of Ramblings click here.

Nuts and Bolts: Sconset Fish Shanties

“Sconset Fish Shanties”
October 20 and October 24 Segmentbroadway

Did you know…that the old fishing cottages at Sconset, along Broadway, Center and Shell streets, were built in the late 17th and early 18th century? These simple rectangular structures huddled together along the bluff originally contained a central room with chimney, and two small sleeping chambers. Over the years the chambers were extended with warts—or shed roof additions that formed a T-shape floor plan. This form became the norm for over 30 cottages that over the years have sprouted not only warts, but wings and in some cases second

4 California Ave


The building located at 4 California Ave. in Madaket is often admired by many for its unique architecture. The building built in 1970 represents one of Nantucket’s modern pieces of architecture. Structures that were built in the years dating up until 1975 recently became recognized as contributing to Nantucket’s historic character. In 2013 the National Historic Landmark designation extended the period of significance to all Nantucket structures built from 1900-1975. The extended recognition date emphasizes the significance of Nantucket’s 19th and 20th century resort industry and island’s national role in the evolution of land conservation and historic preservation – in addition to Nantucket’s whaling era.

374 California Ave can be seen crossing the Madaket bridge


Friday Find: Essex Survivor’s House!

  If you’ve driven up Orange Street on Nantucket than this house may look quite familiar!image3The history of 74 Orange Street is a true find! It may be hard to imagine from its current state, but in the late nineteenth-century Owen Chase (First  Mate and survivor of the Essex whaling ship) called 74 Orange Street home. After his journey on the Essex he returned to the island and wrote a narrative of his experience. This is noted to be the inspiration behind Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick.

Chase’s life has also been made famous in the book: In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex written by Nantucket resident, Nathanial Philbrick. Recently the book was turned into a film: In the Heart of Sea directed by Ron Howard and is set to be released, March 2015. Actor Chris Hemsworth (featured on the left) will be starring as First Mate Owen Chase. The film’s trailer can be viewed below.

image2Chase’s career officially came to an end around 1840 when he resided at his 74 Orange Street home. Towards the end of his life it has been noted that he reached a point of insanity and began hiding food in the attic of his home.

Today the historic property is passed by but often draws attention due to it’s state. The picture to the right features a recently restored handrail. The owner does appear to be slowly restoring it to the glory of it’s heyday.

You never know what you’ll find when discovering a house’s history. Today, a run-down historic Nantucket property but once home to Owen Chase, First Mate of the famous Essex whaling ship.

Nuts and Bolts: Brick Houses

“Brick Houses”
October 13 and October 17 SegmentNewYork-Nan0611094-1

Only a handful of early dwellings on island were constructed of brick. The costs associated with transporting brick made it a material for only the wealthiest on Nantucket. Prior to 1829 brick was used for constructing chimneys and foundations. That year Jared Coffin began construction of his house on Pleasant Street entirely of brick. During the 1830s other wealthy oil merchants followed suit. The most notable examples are Main Street’s Three Bricks as well as Jared Coffin’s second brick house on Broad Street built in 1845.