The natural beauty of ’Sconset has long attracted visitors to the far eastern end of Nantucket. Beginning in the late 19th century, builders seeking to capitalize on the village’s charms built rental communities to house growing numbers of summer tourists. The block of houses on the south side of Magnolia Avenue is a well-preserved example of the rental cottage industry building boom.
The Sunset Heights development of the 1870s was first the group of purpose-built rental properties constructed in ’Sconset. In 1873, prolific builder Charles H. Robinson began construction of Sunset Heights on a large parcel of land south of Main Street. Together with his partner Dr. Franklin A. Ellis, Robinson laid out Ocean Avenue and a series of small lanes, most named after trees. The partners constructed a footbridge over the gully to connect their development with the rest of ’Sconset, and the first cottage was completed by the summer. The new neighborhood was anchored by the Ocean View House, a hotel offering both short- and long-term accommodations at affordable rates. Robinson’s idea proved very successful; he continued building cottages in ’Sconset throughout the 1870s and 1880s, and in 1883 added the Ocean View Annex across the street from the original Ocean View House.
Charles Robinson wasn’t the only builder who sought to reap the benefits of ’Sconset’s quaint appeal. In 1879, Edward F. Underhill purchased land to the south of Magnolia Avenue in Sunset Heights and laid out Pochick Avenue. Unlike the larger Victorian style cottages built by Robinson and Ellis, Underhill built cottages that mimicked the old fishing shacks turned residences in the center of ’Sconset. In 1882 he purchased additional land and laid out Lily and Evelyn Streets, along which he also built small, closely grouped cottages. The Underhill cottages along Pochick Avenue later became the center of the Nantucket Actor’s Colony.
Local landowner Isaac Hills also got in on the ’Sconset cottage craze. In 1885, the year after the Nantucket Railroad extended to ’Sconset, he purchased land on the south side of Magnolia Avenue from Robinson, abutting the land of Edward Underhill. The property already contained two houses; three years after purchasing the land Hills contracted with Robinson to build an additional two houses on the block. Hills advertised many rental properties for occupancy in the Inquirer and Mirror throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, and Magnolia Avenue became alternatively known as Hills Street. Hills grouped his rentals together the ’Sconset Cottage Club, with Rudder Grange, on the corner of Ocean Avenue, serving as its headquarters and dining hall.
However, by 1918 Hills had fallen on economic hardships and was cited for failure to pay property taxes. He also failed to pay in 1919, and in December of that year he sold off a parcel of land on Magnolia Avenue, with the cottage called Genesee Lodge, to Levi Starbuck Coffin. Levi Coffin was a well-known ‘Sconset citizen and owner of Bloomingdale Farm, but Coffin was also involved in the tourism industry centered on Sunset Heights, having served as the proprietor of the Ocean View House in the 1880s. Shortly after purchasing Genesee Lodge, Coffin turned a storehouse on the property into what the Inquirer and Mirror described as a “very comfy igloo.” This new cottage, at 6 Magnolia St, was then rented with along with the other Magnolia Avenue properties as “Tis a House.” Evidence shows that the structure was originally constructed by Hills at the rear of the lot, and moved forward and expanded. A small building appears on Sanborn fire insurance maps from 1904 and 1909, with the map of 1923 showing the expanded dwelling closer to Magnolia Avenue.
Much of the old Sunset Heights is now lost: Ocean View House has been demolished, as have many of Robinson’s original cottages. But the dwellings that composed Isaac Hills’ Cottage Club are still visible along the south side of Magnolia Avenue. Genesee Lodge is now called The Good Tern, Villa Marguerite is now called Tern Too, and Tis a House is now called Rosehip. These cottages, together with Rudder Grange, Casa Fortunata, and Thorny Croft, form a block of intact late-19th and early-20th century buildings that offer a glimpse into Sunset Heights’ development as a resort destination.
 “’Sconset Notes,” The Inquirer and Mirror, May 15, 1920, Historic Digital Newspapers Archive – Nantucket Atheneum.
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.
At just about 6.5 miles long, Milestone Road connects Nantucket’s two historic cores: the bustling harbor front of downtown and the quiet village of ’Sconset. Yet Milestone Road is not simply a way from here to there, but an important historic corridor with unparalleled views of Nantucket’s rural landscape, critical to the island’s status as a National Historic Landmark.
The NHL entry illuminates further: “Land conservation efforts have preserved more than 40% of the island as open land, large portions of which are managed as cranberry bogs and open land subject to annual controlled burns; this conservation land preserves the windswept maritime setting that has characterized all periods of Nantucket’s historic past.”
By the late 1600s, Nantucketers started establishing cart paths to Siasconset. The paths were free flowing and often diverted obstacles such as ruts, but generally followed the now established road. Early 19th century deeds provide evidence that the road was well established just west of the village from Cain’s Hill (public golf course) east to Sconset.
In 1824, the milestone markers were placed to time horse races from and to ‘Sconset and town. On June 1, 1833 The Inquirer & Mirror reported that many hundreds of cart loads of clay have been intermixed with the sand and the “prospect is very favorable that an excellent road will be established from town out to the first milestone marker.”
In 1855, Nantucketers wanted a clearly designated road to the east end of the island. A road was surveyed and improved. In 1856, Mr. Joseph Vincent planted a row of pine seed on each side of the ’Sconset road, “from the corner just below the Asylum to Philip’s Run.”
By the 1880s, the road to ’Sconset was commonly referred to as the Milestone Road. Throughout the 1880s the road required repairs as the ruts became quite deep. Schemes for an electric railway along the Milestone Road were proposed in the late 1880s.
By 1893 the condition of the road was so poor that the town petitioned for Milestone Road to become a state road. The road was again surveyed. Over the course of several years in the late 1890s the Milestone Road was paved with crushed stones. The State Road to ’Sconset was completed in 1910.
By 1896, a bike path had been constructed from town to ’Sconset and was repaired in 1900 after heavy use. It was paved in 1958.
According to Dr. Frances Karttunen, in “A History of Roads and Ways in Nantucket County,” around 1900, a handful of motor vehicles were brought to Nantucket by summer residents. Nantucket voters successfully requested a special act of the Massachusetts legislature to make it illegal to operate an automobile on the island. This ban passed in 1908 and was held until the spring of 1918. Within ten days of the repeal, there were 24 cars and a car dealership on island.
In 1977, Milestone Road was beautified by the planting of 21,000 daffodil bulbs alongside the road by the Nantucket Garden Club. More than forty years later, the daffodils still delight each spring.
Milestone Road has long captivated those journeying to ’Sconset, as this 1896 poem A Picture by Anna C. Starbuck printed in The Inquirer & Mirror details:
Starbuck Cottage, 19 Main Street ’Sconset, the latest to succumb to the gut rehab virus, passed from history earlier this week at the age of (at least) 163.
First built sometime in the 1850s by Thomas A. Gardner, 19 Main Street was sold to Matthew Starbuck in 1856 for $1,600—a high price for the time. The son of Joseph Starbuck, Matthew Starbuck’s year-round residence was the Middle Brick on Main Street in Nantucket Town. Fishermen’s cottages in the village of ’Sconset sold for less than one thousand dollars at the time, and sometimes for as little as three or four hundred dollars. Already Main Street ’Sconset was becoming a desirable location for a summer cottage for residents of Nantucket Town.
Later in the 19th century, Matthew’s wife, Catherine Wyer Starbuck is known to have planted the first tree in ’Sconset at the site. Despite assertations from friends that the soil was too sandy to sustain life, Catherine planted the tree and it grew. Sadly, this tree was also a casualty of the new construction taking place at 19 Main Street.
Many members of the extended Starbuck Family spent time in the cottage, and it eventually descended to Matthew’s granddaughter, Florence. A landscape architect, Florence married Frederick P. Hill, an architect of many ’Sconset homes. Florence is perhaps best known as the proliferator of the rosa American Pillar, the beloved bright pink climbing rose that adorns many of ’Sconset’s cottages.
In 1909, Florence bought 1,500 roses for 22 cents each and sold them to her neighbors in ’Sconset at cost. Over the next few years she repeated this feat. The iconic rose-covered cottages exist today because of Florence Hill, and the yard at Starbuck Cottage. It is hard to imagine one house that was more important to the landscape architectural heritage of ’Sconset.
Starbuck Cottage now joins the ranks of other Nantucket houses that have been stripped of their historic fabric and integrity. It will continue to live on in the memories of those who loved this house.
The end of summer events means it’s time for us to get back to our research work in earnest. I am always researching here at the NPT but fall and winter allow for more time to dedicate to research projects than the busy summer does. I enjoy finding the answer to a question buried somewhere within the registry of deeds or the archives of our local newspaper.
History and historic preservation go hand in hand. After all, the history of a house helps us understand exactly what it is worthy of preservation and protection. Architectural styles can be easy to spot from the street, but the stories of the people who lived in these important houses are sometimes hidden. Delving deep into the registry of deeds can help bring these stories to light.
You can start your search online at the assessor’s database. On Nantucket, our assessor records are all digitized and easily searchable. I’ve found that most towns in Massachusetts have easily accessible accessor records, either in an online database or online list. Assessor records will give you the location of the last few recorded deeds. Once you have a book and page number, you’re off to the races!
You can make your way backwards through the registry of deeds by following the trail of book and page numbers. Most deeds reference the deed of the previous owner, and back and back until you can find the original deed. Sometimes, property was transferred through wills and you won’t find reference to a book and page number. Instead, you’ll have to go to Nantucket’s probate court on the second floor of the Town & County building at 16 Broad Street.
Most of Nantucket’s deeds from the 20th century are digitized and easily searched online at Mass Land Records. Anything later than (and including) Book 107 is online. Everything earlier, you’ll have to head down to the registry of deeds at the Nantucket Town & County building.
Working in the registry of deeds sounds like it is stuffy and tedious—but I think of it as an adventure. You are a detective, searching through the decades, deciphering faded handwriting and ancient terms. Okay, maybe the terms aren’t all that ancient, and the handwriting is usually quite good (better than mine) but it makes me feel like a sleuth all the same.
The deeds reveal much more than who owned what property. Deeds tell of friends so close they purchased neighboring houses, with easements to allow for passage between kitchen doors. They tell of women whose husbands died at sea, but who secured life rights to their house so they would always have a place to live. Information in the deeds reflects the changing real estate market—the boom during the golden age of whaling, the crash after whaling ended, the birth of the tourism industry and the second home market. There’s a certain magic in following a thread throughout history and ending up at an answer: who built this house, and when?
From there, there are all sorts of sources that can help you determine more information about the people who built or lived in the house. The Nantucket Historical Association’s Barney Genealogical Record can help you learn more about the name you read in the deeds. It is helpful to understand family relationships, and narrow down windows of time to help you search.
The Nantucket Atheneum’s digital newspaper archive has digitized copies of The Inquirer & Mirror and other island newspapers from 1816 to just a few years ago. It is truly a remarkable database and a fantastic resource for the island community, or anyone interested in Nantucket history. You may find real estate transactions in the paper, ads for houses for sale, as well as notices that refer to the construction of the house you’re researching.
Lastly, if doing your own deed research sounds like too much work, Nantucket Preservation Trust can help. We offer a variety of house histories and house marker programs and can do the work for you!
Originally the site of the Ocean View House Annex, One Ocean Ave stands out in the small village of ‘Sconset on the island’s eastern end.
Harry Lange Burrage (1872-1951) president of the Connecticut Cotton Company and banker, purchased the Ocean View House Annex property in ’Sconset in 1919, with plans to tear down the old four-story building and put up a house in its place.
1919 was a busy year for Harry. He married his second wife, the actress Mabel Davis (1886-1965) on October 14, 1919. Her stage name was Mabel Acker (her maiden name). It was Mabel’s second marriage as well, and both brought children from prior marriages to their new union.
One Ocean Ave was designed by the Boston architect William H. Cox (1879-1948). Cox designed the Chatham Bars Inn, the Cross Trees mansion in Chatham, and housing for workers at the Connecticut Mills Company, where Barrage was president.
The work of razing the old Ocean View Annex started in the fall of 1919. Elliot M. Brown and Horace C. Gibbs oversaw the demolition project. Plumbing work was finished in April of 1920. In May of 1920, the foundation for the garage was put in. The weather that year slowed many building projects, and the masons were held up due to their inability to secure lime. Work continued into the summer of 1920, and Harry and Mabel sailed from Boston on their yacht to check on construction. In June of 1920, there was “much to be done yet before it is ready for occupancy.” The Burrages planned to spend summer of 1920 in ’Sconset and rent elsewhere.
An Inquirer and Mirror article published August 13, 1921, writes of One Ocean Ave and Mabel Davis Burrage: “Although she has retired from the stage, she has from time to time many of her old friends with her as guest sat “The Moors,” Mr. Burrage’s $75,000 summer home overlooking the sea.”
By August of 1923, the Burrage estate was “a glorious mass of riotous rambler roses and makes a fitting setting for its handsome chatelaine,” but before the year was out, the Burrage family would sell the grand estate.
In November 1923, Regan Hughston (1875-1951) and Maribel Hartman Hughston (1875-1958) purchased the Burrage estate. At the time of her their marriage in 1918, Maribel was known as Ohio’s richest woman. Regan (also called Regan Hughston McLaughlin) was a vaudeville star, and the couple met in 1911 when Regan was directing a play in Columbus, OH. Regan appeared in three silent films in the 1910s, and he was a member of the George Fawcett stock company in Baltimore in the early 1900s.
Maribel had been married once before in 1895 to Frederick William Schumacher, with whom she had three children; they divorced. Schumacher worked for Maribel’s father, the wildly successful snake oil salesman Dr. Samuel B. Hartman. Hartman was the man behind the famous prohibition era “medicine” Peruna, which was about 18% alcohol. (The book Wicked Columbus, Ohio by David Myers and Elise Meyers Walker has a chapter on Peruna and the Hartmans.) Dr. Hartman was brought down by the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act but was far from broke. In 1911, Maribel urged him to construct The Hartman, a ten-story building (since demolished) in Columbus that housed a theatre.
The Hughstons were not alone at One Ocean Ave. They employed the Wilson family as domestic workers, though the Wilsons lived in Codfish Park. Clarence F. Wilson (1901-1993) was the Hughston’s private chef. Originally from Bermuda, Clarence came to the US in the early 1920s. He was married to Florence (Flossy) Adlina Deshields, also from Bermuda. They had three daughters, Lois Genevieve, Vivian Louise, and Joan Rita. The Wilson family arrived on Nantucket in May of 1938 where they spent 15 year employed by Regan and Maribel Hughston, both on Nantucket and in New York. Their 50th wedding anniversary was honored by all of ’Sconset in 1975, and when Clarence died the flags at the ’Sconset rotary flew at half-staff.
One Ocean Ave stayed in the Hughston family through Maribel’s daughter, Maribel Hartman (Schumacher) Finnell, and grandson, Michael Finnell. After 67 years of continuous ownership, the Hughston-Finnell family sold One Ocean Ave in 1990.
Thursday, August 22, 2019 | 11:30 am | ‘Sconset Chapel
Join noted architectural and garden historian Paula Henderson for this year’s Summer Lecture: An Embarrassment of Riches: Preservation Across the Pond, focused on historic preservation in England where there are more well-preserved historic buildings than anywhere else in the world.
Drawing on her experiences working as a consultant on some of the most important country houses in England, Paula Henderson’s lecture will explore the challenges of opportunities of preservation in Britain. An independent architectural and garden historian with a Ph.D. from the Courtauld Institute of Art, Paula lectures widely in Britain and in the United States and has published over sixty articles on English houses and their settings. Her book, The Tudor House and Garden: Architecture and Landscape in the 16th and Early 17th Centuries (Yale University Press), won the Berger Prize for the outstanding contribution to the history of British art in 2005.
Each year, Nantucket Preservation Trust’s August Fête takes you inside some of the island’s most historic homes. This year’s Broadway Revival August Fête celebrate’s ‘Sconset’s history as an actor’s colony. With a reception at the ‘Sconset Casino and open houses in the village’s core, the August Fête is a fantastic night to learn more about the island we love and support Nantucket Preservation Trust. Tickets on sale now!
Here, take a peek at the houses that August Fête attendees will get a chance to tour:
Shanunga | 10 Broadway | c. 1680
Local lore has it that Shanunga was built in the 1680s and moved to its site on Broadway from nearby Sesachacha. The fish house’s name derived from the ship Shanunga of Philadelphia, which was lost in 1852 off the south coast of the island. The vessel’s quarterboard and figurehead graced the yard of the cottage for many years. The oldest section of Shanunga is the T-shaped south end. The north end’s tall section probably dates to the late 18th Century and the lean-to along the side lane was most likely added in the 19th Century.
Uriah Swain (1774-1810), who held the property prior to 1800, was one of the island’s most successful whaling masters. Upon Swain’s death in 1810, the cottage came into possession of his daughter, Elizabeth Swain Carey (1778-1862). Elizabeth, known as Betsey, married James Carey, captain of one of the island’s most successful ships, the Rose. Tragically, James died on a voyage to China in 1812, leaving Betsey with two young children. She ran a store and boarding house on lower Main Street, and later operated Shanunga as a shop and public house. After her death, the cottage passed to her daughter, Betsey Carey Baxter (1806-183), whose husband, Captain William Baxter (b 1805) was ’Sconset’s unofficial postmaster. The cottage served as the local post office and remained in the family into the early 20th Century.
The Maples | 14 Broadway | c.1800s
The construction date of The Maples is unknown, but Edward Underhill wrote in the 1880s that it was held by Latham Gardner in 1814. It’s possible that the fish house was built by Gardner (1760-1830), a Nantucket selectman and town clerk who is said to have served with John Paul Jones as a petty officer on the USS Ranger before becoming a whaling master. Local lore suggest that the house was built during the War of 1812, when iron for hardware was rare, since the house is among the few that were originally constructed with wooden hinges and other wooden hardware in lieu of iron.
The 1835 map of the village indicated the owner had the initials “B.C.,” who may be Betsey Carey—owner of Shanunga, the house next door. By 1858, The Maples was owned by David Mitchell (1799-1875) a successful blacksmith with a shop in town along the wharves and extensive real estate on island. For much of the late 19th Century, the cottage was known as the Eliza Mitchell (1808-1896) house, for David’s forth wife and widow. Today, the lane between Shanunga and The Maples still bears the Mitchell name.
One Ocean | 1 Ocean Avenue | 1919
Harry Lange Burrage (1872-1951) president of the Connecticut Cotton Company and banker, purchased the Ocean View Annex property in ’Sconset in 1919, with plans to tear down the old four-story building and put up a house in its place. Burrage married his second wife, the actress Mabel Davis (1886-1965) on October 14, 1919.
One Ocean Avenue was designed by the Boston architect William H. Cox (1879-1948). Cox designed the Chatham Bars Inn, the Cross Trees mansion in Chatham, and housing for workers at the Connecticut Mills Company, where Barrage was president. The work of razing the old Ocean View Annex started in the fall of 1919. Work continued into the summer of 1920, and Harry and Mabel sailed from Boston on their yacht to check on construction.
In November 1923, the Burrage family sold the grand estate to Regan Hughston (1875-1951) and Maribel Hartman Hughston (1875-1958). At the time of her their marriage in 1918, Maribel was known as Ohio’s richest woman. Regan was a vaudeville star, and the couple met in 1911 when Regan was directing a play in Columbus, OH. Regan appeared in three silent films in the 1910s, and he was a member of the George Fawcett stock company in Baltimore in the early 1900s.
The Hughstons employed the Wilson family as domestic workers, though the Wilsons lived in Codfish Park. Clarence F. Wilson (1901-1993) was the Hughston’s private chef. Originally from Bermuda, Clarence came to the US in the early 1920s. He was married to Florence (Flossy) Adlina Deshields, also from Bermuda. They had three daughters, Lois Genevieve, Vivian Louise, and Joan Rita. The Wilson family arrived on Nantucket in May of 1938 where they spent 15 year employed by Regan and Maribel Hughston, both on Nantucket and in New York. Their 50th wedding anniversary was honored by all ’Sconset in 1975, and when Clarence died the flags at the ’Sconset rotary flew at half-staff.
Svargaloka | 5 Elbow Lane | c. 1860s, moved 1871
On August 5, 1871, The Inquirer & Mirror reported that “E.H. Alley has purchased a tract of land at Siasconset near the verge of the bank and has also purchased the house on the Charles C. Folger Farm, which he intends removing to ’Sconset, to make two cottage houses of it.” Svargaloka is the farmhouse that was found on Hawthorne Lane, just west of town, and moved to ’Sconset. Elijah H. Alley (1819-1888) was a clothing retailer from Lynn, Massachusetts, who married Mary Burdick (1820-1888) of Nantucket. They had no children, and in 1888 the property descended to Mary’s sister Susan. It would eventually pass to Susan’s daughter, Eva Channing (1854-1930), who with her mother appear to have been frequent visitors to the cottage during the time the Alley’s lived there. A student of Sanskrit, Eva is credited with naming the cottage Svargaloka, meaning “land of paradise.” Eva made improvements to the house, including the construction of a piazza that once graced the Elbow Lane elevation but was destroyed in a windstorm in 1914.
Siasconset Union Chapel | 18 New Street
In 1882, a group of men formed a corporation under the name of Siasconset Union Chapel and organized a board of trustees. Builder and owner of the Ocean View House, Charles W. Robinson, and Dr. Franklin A. Ellis, both developers of the Sunset Heights area near Pochick Street, offered a choice between two Sunset Heights parcels for the worship center; however, the board decided on a lot on New Street which was closer to the village center and given by trustee Horatio Brooks. The building plans were donated by a Mr. Varney, a Detroit architect, and Robinson was awarded the bid for construction at a cost of $1,680.
Before construction, the name for the Gothic Revival-style chapel was uncertain. For a time, there was talk of calling it “Baxter’s Saints’ Rest” after Captain William Baxter (of 10 Broadway) a pious mariner who adhered to Christian principles though surrounded by temptation and sin. The church was finally named Union Chapel and was completed in 1883.
Siasconset Casino | 10 New Street | 1899
In 1892, $800 was collected to erect a casino building, and Mrs. Emily E. Rice of Detroit agreed to donate a lot on New Street for a “Hall of Amusement” with dedicated indoor and outdoor community space for social, dramatic, and sporting events. The Siasconset Casino Association was formed in 1899. Architect John Collins drafted plans for “a building with an audience room with a floor to be laid with special reference to dancing, a stage, ante-room, dressing, reading, and smoking rooms.” In mid-July 1900, the Casino and two tennis courts opened. In 1915, the Board of Selectman issued a permit to the Casino to show silent movies. Talkies came to the Casino on June 17, 1931, providing islanders entertainment and escape during the Great Depression. The same year, a movie set was built on the grounds of the Casino and several ’Sconset residents were cast in the film The Sinners.
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.
Each year the Nantucket Preservation Trust recognizes individuals and organizations that advance the cause of historic preservation on Nantucket. Awards are provided for preservation work on historic buildings and landscapes, and for the protection and stewardship of island resources.
NPT’s Preservation Awards program is designed to show that a building or landscape can be sensitively updated while maintaining and preserving its historic integrity. In general, the NPT Preservation Awards emphasize proper preservation, showcase the island’s craftspeople, and reveal the foresight of owners who care about our historic structures and landscape.
2019 Architectural Preservation Award
86 Main Street, Jeffrey Paduch and Caroline Hempstead
A finely detailed and early example of Greek Revival style architecture, the house at 86 Main Street commands attention. Proudly perched at the corner of Pine and Main Streets, the Allen-Crosby-Macy House was constructed in 1834 for Joseph Allen, a whaling captain who also speculated in real estate on Nantucket. Though updates to the house have been made over the years, the majority of the original finishings remained in position.
Unoccupied for more than a decade, 86 Main Street would have been an intimidating project for many homeowners. Jeffrey Paduch and Caroline Hempstead were well suited for the challenge and sought out project manager Brian Pfeiffer. Decision making at 86 Main Street became a collaborative process among the owners, craftsmen, project manager, project engineer, architect, and landscape architect, all of whom have contributed to the spectacular outcome.
Jeffrey and Caroline considered the history behind 86 Main Street to be an important part of their preservation planning. They understood immediately the importance of uncovering the home’s history before work began. The scope of work was immense and included: repair and re-installation of original window sashes and glass; reproduction of louvered shutters; reproduction of replacement window sashes; four original chimney stacks with ten original fireplaces repaired and relined, fireboxes and ovens repaired; reconstruction of cupola; excavation beneath foundation walls and installation of traditional underpinning of granite stones to create interior basement height to house modern mechanicals; structural repairs to timber-frame, west wall, southeast and southwest corners of the ell; repairs to interior woodwork and interior plaster; and reinstallation of interior shutters and doors.
A project this extensive is truly a team effort. Led by homeowners Jeffrey Paduch and Caroline Hempstead, the team also includes Brian Pfeiffer, Penelope Austin, Michael Gault, Jared Baker, Amy Boyle, Colin Evans, Michael Burrey, Nathaniel Allen, Aaron Beck, Adam Zanelli, Newton Millham, D. Randall Ouellette, Gary Naylor, Todd Strout, Betsy Tyler, Luke Thornewill, Janet Kane, and Martin McGowan.
2019 Historical Renovation Award
51 B Centre Street, Keith and Elizabeth Roe, owners; Michael Sweeney, builder
One of the largest differences between the way Nantucket’s historic downtown looks today and the way it looked two hundred years ago is the removal of outbuildings from the streetscape. The landscape would have been dotted with outbuildings—privies, stables, hen houses, to name a few. 51 B Centre Street is a 2-story wood-framed structure originally built as a stable for 51 Centre Street and today serves as a guest cottage. The construction of the early stable is the original, surviving post-and-beam wood frame. The original structure appears on the earliest Sanborn Map in 1887. Between 1898 and 1904, a separate structure at the west end was removed.
The cottage at 51 B Centre Street contributes to the island’s historic streetscape. It is rare to have survived in its original footprint and form from its beginnings as a utilitarian stable structure.
Michael Sweeney Construction oversaw the restoration and renovation of its existing form, footprint, and original post-and-beam structure. A one-story addition was designed and constructed to harmonize with the existing building. Sweeney also used salvaged materials from the structure to echo the look of exposed beams in the new addition.
2019 Historical Renovation Award
The Helm, 6 Evelyn Street, Sias., Alec and Brigid Lamon
According to Edward F. Underhill, developer of Underhill Cottages in ’Sconset in the 1880s, The Helm was “built following the traditions of the builders of a hundred years ago, who made their houses strong and compact for comfort and convenience and with no thought that the structures they reared would ever be in demand for the residences of families from distant parts during the warm season.” The cottages were modeled after the fish houses in the village core along Broadway, Center, and Shell streets—using the same architectural vocabulary, including warts, T-shaped plans, and half gable roofs.
Now an important part of the island’s architectural heritage, the Underhill Cottages (Pochick, Lily, and Evelyn Streets) are individually owned. Some of the original cottages have been heavily changed over the years, but The Helm retains much of its original architectural details and charm. The Helm has been in the Lamon family for decades, and owners Alec and Brigid Lamon recently underwent a careful historical renovation working with Angus MacLeod Designs.
The kitchen and bathrooms were updated, and windows and insulation were added in the second-floor loft. A ca. 1940s wing to The Helm housed an additional bedroom but did not harmonize with the original structure. MacLeod took advantage of the cottage’s evolution and designed a functional bedroom and bathroom, and installed windows and a door to the side yard that complemented the original structure yet worked to integrate the addition. An outdoor porch was enclosed to create a welcoming breakfast nook but retains its old exposed shingles. Overall, The Helm is characteristic of the quirky charm of Old ’Sconset that Underhill sought to emulate.
2019 Traditional Building Methods
Newton “Tony” Millham
Tony Millham began blacksmithing in Newport, Rhode Island in 1970, forging architectural hardware for the Newport Restoration Foundation, and in 1977 he moved his shop to Westport, Massachusetts. All of Tony’s work is hand forged and hand finished. Careful forging combined with filing, fitting, and finishing are necessary to reproduce the details, finish, and feel of early wrought hardware.
Tony’s careful work can be found in many island homes and buildings, including the Old Gaol, Higginbotham House, 100 Main Street, 86 Main Street, and in ’Sconset. In addition to designs in his own catalog, Tony reproduces hardware by working from client’s original examples; photographs; sketches; architectural drawings; or references to images in books.
Not only a splendid craftsman, homeowners and project managers agree that Tony is an accessible resource. He is always happy to answer a question, aid in installation, or teach a homeowner the skills required to install and care for his pieces.
2019 New Construction Award
39 Main Street, Sias., Nell and George Wilson, owners
Perhaps the best indicator of an award-worthy New Construction project is that the only thing that sets it apart from other nearby buildings are the new cedar shake shingles. Once weathered to a soft grey, the house at 39 Main Street in ’Sconset will look as though it has always been there. Working with the Wilson family, designer Milton Rowland created a stately Main Street home that echoes the details of other houses that line the street and welcome you to the village. Set back from the road, the new house still retains a large yard. Many of the homes on Main Street were added to over the years, creating a visual reminder of the passage of time and tastes. The design of 39 Main Street mimics these older structures, creating a feeling of a large family home that has been expanded over the decades. The builder for the house was Rhett Dupont of Cross Rip Builders.
2019 Stewardship Award
Shanunga, 10 Broadway, Sias., Kristen Williams Haseotes, owner
One of the most architecturally significant buildings in ’Sconset, Shanunga needed a savior. A host of issues dissuaded many potential buyers, but Kristen Williams Haseotes was ready to take on the project. The best preservation practices guided her work, and she worked with fine craftsmen including Patrick McCarty of Nantucket Carpentry, and window restorationist, Brian FitzGibbon. The exterior of the house has been carefully restored and old timbers were retained and repaired rather than replaced. Today the old fish house has been refreshed with new shingles and restored windows—and the notable addition of a carved wooden figurehead once again graces the front yard. Previously hidden behind high hedges, the house now sits proudly as an important part of the streetscape with sensitive landscaping. The interior remains relatively untouched. Haseotes updated the kitchen and the bathroom, both in a careful manner in keeping with the rustic style of the house. The footprint of the structure also remains the same, and through her efforts, new life has been breathed into one of ’Sconset’s most adored buildings.
2019 Landscape Award
Florence Merriam Hill, posthumously
Perhaps no one person has had as much of an impact on the garden landscape of Nantucket—especially Siasconset—than Florence Hill. Hill, a Starbuck descendant, grew up on Upper Main Street in the stately Middle Brick mansion. But it was ’Sconset where Florence Hill’s influence is still felt today. Florence and Frederick Hill owned Starbuck Cottage in the easternmost village. A landscape architect, Hill was single-handedly responsible for the proliferation of American Pillar roses on Nantucket. In 1909, she bought 1,500 roses for 22 cents each and sold them to her neighbors in ’Sconset at cost. Over the next few years she repeated this feat. The iconic rose-covered cottages exist today because of Florence Hill.