Friday Find: Historic Architecture and Boxing Day

Christmas may be over but the holidays are not. December 26, better known as Boxing Day is celebrated several different ways across the world. The origins of the day have been debated and traditions vary from country to country. In the United States the holiday is not fully acknowledged, however traditions  have evolved over time and include: after holiday sales, a day to give back and in a few US States it is observed as an official state holiday. In Britain it is officially celebrated as a bank holiday, thus meaning banks, government offices and post offices are closed. Today may not be a bank holiday for us, however this week we found how the historic architecture of former banks is being used.

Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel
918 17th Street, Denver Colorado
renaissance-hotel-rendering-1The building located at 918 17th Street, Denver Colorado formally home to the Colorado National Bank Building in 1915. Today it has been restored and is a functioning hotel. The building features a three-story atrium with white marble colonnades and 221 guest-rooms.

Duane Read Drugstore
40 Wall Street, New York City NY

40wallstreetbuildingThe building known to some as the Crown Jewel of Wall Street, formerly housed the Bank of Manhattan Trust before being purchased by Donald Trump in 1995. It was constructed in 1929 and for a short period of time was the tallest building in the world, before being surpassed by the Chrysler Building. Today the historic building is home to the Duane Read flagship store. It was award landmark status in 1998 by the New York City Preservation Committee.

The Bedford
1612 West Division Street, Chicago, IL

chicago-supper-club-restaurant-reclaims-bank-with-vault-the-bedford-19In the 1920’s The Bedford, located in Wicker Park Chicago was formerly Home Bank & Trust Co.. Today the historic piece of architecture has been restored and is known for it’s unique dining options. The lower-level space features terracotta, marble and terrazzo, reclaimed and restored from the original bank. The bank’s vault room has been converted into a cocktail bar and includes 6,000 working copper lock boxes. In 2008 the building received landmark status.

Friday Find: A Giant Donut!

(original giant donut atop The Grind coffee shop)

This week we found a giant preserved DONUT! You may be wondering, why would you preserve a donut and what does have to do with architectural preservation? Well, this isn’t any normal donut but one made of fiberglass and steel. The giant donut was originally placed atop the Long Beach, CA coffee shop, The Grind located at 5560 E. Seventh St. in the 1950’s to attract motorists passing. Long Beach has long been known for its distinctive retro character. Items such as the famous roadside icon are what make the city unique. When the new franchise Dunkin Donuts took over the building talk of getting rid of the icon started, leading to a local community members and preservationists to start the campaign “Save the Giant Donut”.

(newly restored donut being placed atop Dunkin Donuts on Monday, December 8)
(Newly restored donut being placed atop Dunkin Donuts on Monday, December 8)

On Monday, December 8 the restored donut was placed atop Dunkin Donuts in preparation for the business’s official opening the following day. The campaign was successful in saving the donut but it was restored with a few changes. The originially famous pink donut has been changed to a chocolate glazed sprinkle donut. The donut may be an eyesore to some but to preservationists it represented part of the cities historic retro character. This is a great example of why preservation is important and shows how architecture can play a much larger significance than appears to the eye. Dunkin Donuts, which originated as an east coast franchise is now rapidly expanding on the west coast. The video below discusses this and even highlights the “Save the Giant Donut Campaign.” Click HERE for more information and to view the campaign’s Facebook Page.

Friday Find: 1998 NPT Newsletter!

This week while organizing old files we found our very first newsletter dating back to 1998 and yes you read that right “newsletter” meaning one that was physically mailed! You may be surprised to read and it see that some things haven’t changed much but on the other hand some have drastically. Today we no longer mail a regular newsletter but send a monthly e-newsletter to all NPT members and those who opt-in (click here if you’d like to join). The fact that the newsletter is no longer mailed but something you receive in your “inbox” isn’t the only major change you may realize when reading the Volume I NPT Newsletter below. Below we’ve highlighted a few changes we felt should be highlighted:

  • Method of delivery mailing versus emailing
  • Graphic changes – color and videos compared to black and white
  • Types of programs mainly collaborations and talks compared to large scale events
  • Staff growth and changes (one Executive Director vs. three staff members)
  • MAJOR growth of board members – 8 to 25!
  • Change of office location and even the mailing address
  • The amount of text used compared to photo and video use

A few things have remained the same. Did you notice one of the board members listed Caroline Ellis is still one the board today. The annual meeting location listed in the 1998 newsletter ironically was the same this past year, The Sconset Chapel. Some things haven’t changed; however it’s amazing to see the NPT’s grown over the past 16 years just by looking at our first newsletter. The complete newsletter is available to view below.

35 Milk Street

b932dfb835 Milk Street, built circa 1817 at one time was known as The Big Shop and was used for the building of boats until the mid 1800’s. It had been occupied and owned by the same family since 1947, until its recent sale in 2010. It is part of the historic Milk Street neighborhood most likely, named because it was the early route taken by dairy farms west of town near Hummock Pond to the densely populated part of town where milk was delivered to households and shops. Many early houses are in the area, which once was the center of the local government. The Town House, or court house, was moved from its original location on West Chester Street near No Bottom Pond to the corner of Milk and Main Streets in 1783, and remained the hub of local government until 1836, when the town purchased 2 Union Street, previously the home of the NPT, for that purpose.

circa. 1900 (photo courtesy of Nantucket Historical Association)


Today the property is among a list of 10 houses participating in the 9th Annual Tour of Lights. Houses on the list each have elaborate holiday light displays, which can be voted on up until Friday, December 19 at Noon.

*Click HERE for a ballot and complete list of houses

55 Union: Restoration Updates

We are thrilled to have the opportunity to document the restoration of 55 Union Street! As promised we’ll continue to post updates from the beginning to end. Click here if you missed the first announcement to learn about the new and exciting project. The restoration is already in full swing and has revealed some interesting finds including:

image1– Historic Nantucket wallpaper lining the walls 

– 1849 penny found under the ell

– 19th Century English pottery

– Coca-Cola glass bottles featuring Nantucket IslandIMG_2826Did you know both owners of 55 Union Street are recipients of NPT Preservation Awards for their work? It’s great to see such a strong team take on the new labor of love. We hear many of you have been curious and eager to learn about what’s happening behind the scenes; therefore this update may be short but we didn’t want to keep you waiting. Stay tuned for future updates!

Friday Find: Historic Holiday Happenings!

This week we thought it would be fun to share our findings of how other historic districts celebrate the holidays!

Oxnard, CA
Henry T Oxnard Historic District, located in downtown Oxnard, CA dates back to 1898. In 1992 the district was handed down the annual Christmas tradition called “Candy Cane Lane” from the neighboring County, Ventura. Today the historic district comes alive with holiday lights and décor placed up by its residents. They have renamed the original tradition to Christmas Tree Lane” and is has grown to attract up to 40,000 visitors over a 2-3 week period.

Folsom, CA
Folsom Historic District is located in the heart of Folsom, CA. Similar to the island this historic district will also be hosting one its holiday traditions this weekend. The district’s well known Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is held this evening at 6PM. The ceremony includes lighting a tree located in the historic ice skating rink, music, performances, a visit by Santa and more!

Hattiesburg, MI
The Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood Association is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Hattiesburg, MI and listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). This year the two will celebrate the it’s 38th Annual Victorian Candlelit Christmas. The tradition features carriage rides, luminaries, carolers, open house tours, music and more!

Charleston, SC
Founded in 1670 the oldest city in South Carolina hosts a vast array of holiday events. No matter one’s age or interest there will be something to entertain all. Events include the Annual Festival of Lights, holiday pub crawl, holiday dinners, walking tours, photos with Santa, “Scuba Santa” an opportunity to see Santa swimming in the SC Aquarium, plays, religious performances/ceremonies, and even an opportunities to enjoy breakfast with Santa Claus!

Old City Colorado, Colorado
A small settlement El Dorado officially became known as Old City Colorado in 1859. Today they host holiday events from November 28 through Christmas Eve. The festive happenings include: carols, a twentieth century holiday tour, carriage rides and an even a Christmas stroll such as Nantucket’s!

Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard
The “other” island Martha’s Vineyard is home to historic Edgartown. The town celebrates the holidays during a weekend long event “Christmas in Edgartown”. Starting December 12 – 14 the town hosts events: The Annual Great Chowder Contest, pictures with Santa, the Lighting of the Lighthouse at the Harbor View Hotel, the Christmas parade, holiday sales and themed events.

This weekend Nantucket will celebrate the annual Christmas Stroll. You can view a listing of this weekend’s events and happenings on the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce web site. Nantucket really gets into the festive spirit! Do you remember what happened in 2010?

New Administrative Assistant: Heather Burke

heather burkeWe are pleased to announce the hiring of Heather Burke as the new NPT Administrative Assistant. Heather Burke joins us as a year-round resident with her husband, David, a Nantucket Cottage Hospital employee since 2010. They have two grown children, Sarah and Andrew, who are both student athletes at UMass Amherst. Heather will assist current staff members Exeuctive Director, Michael May and (newly promoted) Marketing and Events Coordinator, Marisa Holden to successfully run the NPT office. Her role will include daily administrative support, clerical work, database support and execution of event logistics.

Heather enjoys using her administrative skills working and volunteering for organizations that strengthen communities. Her recent experience includes work as the office receptionist and data manager at Wellfleet Elementary School on Cape Cod, volunteer coordinator for the Cape Cod Harriers track club, and an elected member of the Bethel Board of Education (CT).

When not cheering-on her family of runners, Heather enjoys exploring antique decorative arts and practicing yoga. Living in an apartment of a Union Street house bearing an NPT house marker has piqued her interest in Nantucket’s historical homes. We are very happy to have Heather join the our staff and look forward to our members meeting her during the 2015 events. In the meantime if you have any questions for Heather you can contact her at