Historic Property in Danger!

Easy Street Gallery from the harbor at right, c. 1930s With roofwalk and porch (photo courtesy the Nantucket Historical Association)
Easy Street Gallery from the harbor at right,
with roofwalk and porch, c. 1930 (photo courtesy the Nantucket Historical Association)

The old Easy Street Gallery building at 27 Easy Street will be demolished unless a proposal to move it from its waterfront site is completed in the next few weeks. In December, NPT–concerned about the loss of an important element of Nantucket’s early art colony–reached out to the Land Bank, which allowed us to complete an assessment of the building with timber frame expert Michael Burrey and preservationist Pen Austin. These experts concluded that the structure is a candidate for preservation.

Although left to deteriorate for many years, the Easy Street Gallery building is structurally sound and there are no apparent “red flags” that would hinder a move from the site or its restoration. Surprisingly, the interior contains eighteenth century elements, including paneled walls, doors and timbers—all obviously repurposed from earlier structures in the Nantucket fashion. The central section of the building is of mid-nineteenth century vintage, but attic beams are hand-hewn and this section is timber frame construction, which would make disassembling relatively easy. A north wing was added about 1923 when the building was relocated to this site. The evolution of the building is still evident in late nineteenth and early twentieth century details such as whimsical door surrounds with columns and transoms for ventilation, and a large sliding doorway that reflect its use as a seaside bath house and art gallery.

Hayden’s building along the harbor, c. 1890s (photo courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association)
Hayden’s building along the harbor, c. 1890s (photo courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association)

Besides its architectural features, the building also has a very interesting history. It was originally built as a cooper shop, and acquired and enlarged by Charles E. Hayden for use as a heated saltwater bathhouse called the Clean Shore Bathing Rooms. Hayden established his bathhouse on the harbor near South Beach Street (just north of the present -day Nantucket Yacht Club) with bathing rooms and changing rooms on two floors. Hayden’s remained a popular destination for the early tourist trade for many years, but by the 1920s it was no longer in fashion. In 1923, the building was purchased by Florence Lang and relocated to its current location on the Easy Street basin. A nationally-renown art patron, Lang transformed the building into the Easy Street Gallery (consider a predecessor of the Artist Association), which opened in 1924 and remained a driving force of the art colony until her death. The gallery was part of a larger effort by Lang to acquire, transform and save the fish houses, the railroad depot, and other structures along the wharves and at the same time assist artist by providing reasonable rents for studios and craft shops. With the lost of its patron the gallery closed in 1943 – and became a home before being converted for commercial use.

Easy Street Gallery at left, c. 1930 (photo courtesy the Nantucket Historical Association)
Easy Street Gallery at left, c. 1930 (photo courtesy the Nantucket Historical Association)

In recent years historians and preservationists have embraced the importance of the art colony and deemed structures associated with it as community landmarks worthy of preservation. The old Easy Street Gallery is significant for its role in Nantucket’s late nineteenth century tourist industry as well as the emergence of the island’s early twentieth century art colony. In fact, in 2012 Nantucket’s National Historic Landmark status was expanded by the Department of Interior to include the art colony’s role, noting it is not only of local importance, but of significance to the nation.

Unless rescued, the demolition of the building will occur by early spring. Last week the Nantucket Land Bank developed an RFP for interested nonprofit groups to remove the structure. Although NPT has no funds to complete a move or restoration project, we could team up with a private developer who would be willing to take on a renovation project. Although in the eleventh hour, our hope is that the building can be rescued and remain a part of Nantucket’s architectural heritage.

For additional information contact Michael May at the NPT office 508-228-1387 or mmay@nantucketpreservation.org

Friday Find: A “Must” See Film!

Raise+the+Roof+Postcard+7We are thrilled that Esta-Lee Stone, NPT board member and Preservation Month committee chair found the 2016 Preservation Month opening film, Raise the Roof! We would like to thank The Nantucket Atheneum and Congregation Shirat Ha Yam for co-sponsoring this event. The film has been provided by The National Center for Jewish Film, www.jewishfilm.org

The two screenings will take place on the following days and both will conclude with a Q&A session featuring special guests: Rick and Laura Brown and Filmmakers Cary and Yari Wolinsky.

Saturday, June 11 at 6:30 pm
Seating is limited. Reservations required.
Please call NPT at 508-228-1387 to reserve your seats.

Sunday, June 12 at 6:00 pm
Seating is limited. Reservations are not required.

“Artists Rick and Laura Brown are not Jewish and not Polish, and yet they set out to rebuild Gwoździec, one of the magnificent 18th-century wooden synagogues of Poland, the last of which were destroyed by Nazis during World War II. Their vision inspires hundreds of people to join them. Using their hands, old tools and techniques they rediscover Gwoździec’s history, culture, and art.

Raise the Roof follows the Browns and the Handshouse Studio team to Sanok, Poland, as they begin building the new Gwoździec roof. The crew has six weeks to hew, saw, and carve 200 freshly logged trees and assemble the structure. Working against this deadline and despite torrential downpours and exhaustion, the team must create the structure, and disassemble it again for shipping and eventual installation.

To paint the intricate ceiling murals, the Browns face another challenge: the 1914 photographs of Gwoździec are black and white and there is only one, partial color study.  Using that as their Rosetta Stone, the Browns slowly build a library of Gwoździec’s colors.

Armed with pigments and stacks of wooden boards, the team sets up to paint the ceiling mural in what seems to be an art gallery in Rzeszów, Poland.  In fact, this building and those in seven other Polish cities where they will work during the summers of 2011 and 2012, are all former or active masonry synagogues. Each Handshouse-trained painting leader is tasked with creating the mural’s most iconic images and training students to paint thousands of flowers and vines.

Although Rick and Laura Brown chose to rebuild the Gwoździec because it was one of the best documented, the historic material they found was spotty. Many questions about the synagogue were left unanswered:

What sparked this period of profuse and energetic construction and painting?

Why were the Jews of this time willing to break the Second Commandment prohibition against graven images in decorating this building?

And…

What cultural and artistic movements inspired artists to create these resplendent spaces?

Raise the Roof  takes us on this journey of discovery.”

-Synopsis via www.polishsynagogue.com

 

Friday Find: Preservation Easement Incentive….

For the first “Friday Find” post of 2016 we wanted to share with you information that will help encourage more easement contributions.

Preservation EasementsThis “FIND” may give you a new reason to consider placing a preservation easement on your historic property on island. On December 18, 2015 President Obama signed a new tax bill that includes 22 tax breaks. One of the 22 makes permanent the Federal Conservation Tax Deduction, which allows property owners to deduct all or part of the donated value of a historic preservation easement from their taxable Federal income. This enhanced incentive fixes the number of year’s donors can take a deduction from 6 to 16 years. Also, the maximum deduction one can take has increased from 30% of their Annual Gross Income (AGI) in any year to 50%. This enhancement is a great achievement for land conservationists and those in the historic preservation field, and most importantly those looking to place easements on their property. If you are interested in learning more about preservation easements and the NPT easement program please contact our Executive Director, Michael May for more information.

-Marisa Holden, Events and Marketing Director
m.holden@nantucketpreservation.org

Friday Find: LOST Properties

As we step into the new year it’s a time to look at the past. Below are three properties, which we found but unfortunately no longer exist. It is our hope you will join us in 2016 by working to
preserve our past for the future!


The Geodesic Dome

geodesic dome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Situated off Cliff Road adjoining the Tupancy Links, this unusual structure was built by Dr. Richard Morgan of South Lincoln, Massachusetts, in 1960. (Curiously, nearby in Lincoln, was the home of Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School.) A newspaper account at the time described Nantucket’s Geodesic Dome as “a most unusual and modernistic type house now being assembled by local builder James Lamb of Wauwinet.” That year, professional photographer Michael Vaccaro photographed its construction and the completed house for Look magazine. Geodesic-dome houses were still rare at the time – Buckminster Fuller had patented the house type in 1954 (although the concept originated in 1922 in Germany). It was not until after the 1964 World’s Fair that the geodesic-dome house became popular nationwide, reaching its peak production in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The house on Cliff Road was demolished in 2002.


The “Pink House”

The Pink House
The “Pink House” (photo courtesy of the NHA)
Today the island has strict exterior restrictions regulated by the Historic District Commission (HDC). Included in these restrictions are eleven approved exterior paint colors, none of which are pink. The house was owned by Elizabeth “Siki” Wagley Lucas Evans and located at 260 Polpis Road. Today it’s exterior paint would not pass HDC regulations. The owner must have been a fan of pink, as you can see in the photo below even the interior was pink! The historic property is one that was lost after being sold in the late 90’s.

Interior of "The Pink House" (photo courtesy of the NHA)
Interior of The “Pink House” (photo courtesy of the NHA)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Monument Square Grocery

Monument Square Grocery (photo courtesy of the NHA)
Monument Square Grocery (photo courtesy of the NHA)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monument Square Grocery, built by Robert McCleave between 1869 (the year he bought the property) and 1887 (the year of the first Sandborn Insurance Co. map of Nantucket). James B. Coffin ran a grocery business at this location, advertised in the 1897 Nantucket Directory; it was Whittemore Gardner who named his business Monument Square Grocery in 1907.  The grocery store, which in the past was located at 106 Main Street sadly no longer exists. In 2001 the building was demolished but not without a fight! The photo below highlights passionate preservationists who attempted to block the demolish of the property.

A photo in 2001 of island preservationists attempting to stop demolish of 106 Main Street
Photo taken in 2001 of an attempt to stop the demolition of 106 Main Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start the new year on the right foot by showing your support of Nantucket’s architectural heritage. Without the support of our members we would not be able to continue our mission to:

“Preserve Nantucket’s architectural heritage for
present and future generations”

Join Today Click Here