National Historic Landmark Update

The long awaited update of the National Historic Landmark designation for Nantucket has been approved and signed by the Secretary of the Interior. Although the island has been recognized as a national treasure since 1966 – the first year the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmark programs were implemented – only Nantucket’s structures built prior to 1900 were considered contributing to the island’s historic character. The update extends the period of significance from 1900 to 1975; it also recognizes the significance of Nantucket’s 19th and 20th century resort industry and the island’s national role in the evolution of land conservation and historic preservation – in addition to Nantucket’s whaling era.

The NHL designation does not change local controls, but it can provide benefits for property owners of architecturally significant buildings of the 20th century. The distinction means these buildings can be considered contributing in the eyes of the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC), an important step when “relief” from building codes is sought for historic structures or when owners wish to place preservation easements on the post-1900 structures. Prior to the update, the MHC could not approve these requests. The update will also make federal tax credits available for owners of 20th century structures, who wish to participate in historic rehabilitation projects.

Although the extended date will not necessarily make a property owner eligible for these benefits, as the structure would still need to be deemed historic, it is a critical step for preserving these structures and a great honor. National Historic Landmarks remain the highest designation for historic buildings and districts in the country.

The NHL update project was begun by the Nantucket Preservation Trust in 2008 with a grant from the Community Preservation Fund.

NPT Welcomes 2013 Interns

The Nantucket Preservation Trust is pleased to welcome our 2013 Interns, Kelly Perkins and Kara Livintas. The NPT’s intern are students at The Preservation Institute Nantucket (PIN) field school, which is in affiliation with The University of Florida’s Historic Preservation Program. For more information regarding PIN please click here.

Kelly Perkins is from Longwood, Florida. She attended New York University for her undergraduate studies in history, journalism, and art history. During her time at NYU, Kelly spent time abroad in Florence, Italy and Prague, Czech Republic, focusing on journalism, historic preservation, and art history. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, Kelly decided to pursue her knowledge in historic preservation, and in May 2013, she received her master’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Florida. While attending UF, Kelly attended a global heritage studio in Indonesia, where she focused on developing a heritage tourism program for West Sumatra. Kelly first came to Nantucket two years ago to attend the Preservation Institute: Nantucket, one of the oldest preservation-minded field schools in the United States. She returned to Nantucket to work at the Nantucket Preservation Trust to expand her knowledge in non-profit organizations, increase her research skills, and enjoy the summer on this beautiful island.

Kara Livitinas is a second year Master’s student in the University of Florida’s Historic Preservation Program in Gainesville, Fl. With a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Pratt Institute, Kara uses her pragmatic design skills to find creative solutions for preservation issues. It was at Pratt that her interest in preservation developed. For her senior thesis she proposed a solution to reuse Philip Johnson’s 1964 World’s Fair NY State Pavilion. Currently, her area of study focuses on community engagement strategies to help involve local stakeholders in adaptive use projects for historic structures within their own neighborhoods. She has been fortunate enough to study design and preservation in the US, Europe and Southeast Asia. As a Philidelphia native, she hopes to return north to begin her career in the Historic Preservation field at the end of this year. 

NPT Hires Marisa Holden as Marketing Associate

The Nantucket Preservation Trust is pleased to announce the hiring of Marisa Holden as the marketing associate. Marisa is a born and raised Nantucket Native who graduated with a Public Relation degree from Suffolk University. It was not until her time spent away at college in Boston and spending a semester abroad in Australia, that she truly recognized the island’s charm. She has been drawn back to her roots and has been living on the island since graduating in 2012. Due to growing up on the island, it’s preservation is something she holds close to heart. Marisa will work with our current staff Michael May and Ema Hudson to advertise, promote and further the growth of our organization.

NPT Presents Study of HDC Best Practices

The Nantucket Preservation Trust is pleased to announce the  completion of its independent study on best practices for the historic district commission.  Undertaken this winter and early spring, the report provides general background on HDC policies and identifies key best practices for Nantucket to consider. The NPT hopes this study will be used as a starting point to assist the HDC in their work and the work of a committee charged with  recommending improved procedures. We encourage discussion and further review of HDC practices and look forward to changes that will lead to better protection of our architectural heritage.

To read the entire review, please click on the link below:
NPT HDC Best Practices

Conservation of the Mitchell House Continues

With the support of grants, the Mitchell House’s southern façade has been re-shingled.  The old shingles were no longer sufficient to protect the Mitchell House from weather.  The shingles had shrunk, curled, and left significant gaps between one another courtesy of sun, rain, and age.  This can allow water to penetrate to the sheathing and cause rot and leaks.  They were last replaced circa 1960.

The Mitchell House contracted with Nathan Killeen of Nathan Killen Old House Restoration to do the work.  Nathan has worked on the Mitchell House for many years with Sanford Kendall who is now retiring.  Over the course of two weeks, with carpenter Matt Anderson, Killeen stripped the shingles by sections at a time.  There was minor sheathing rot at the base of the House so these parts were replaced in-kind with older, non-pressure treated wood.  Some sill rot was also discovered and a piece of wood was sistered to the old sill once the rot was cleared away.  The original sill just needed some strengthening.  Wood splines were placed along the corner boards, as well as around the windows and front door.  This will keep water from penetrating.  Tar paper was not used as this is not historically appropriate and also acts as a vapor barrier – trapping moisture in the House and sheathing.

We think based on nail holes, that this is only the third time the façade of Mitchell House has ever been re-shingled.  The sheathing and corner boards, as well as the trim for the windows is original – and the sashes and door are too, of course!  We also found carpenters’ marks, sawyer’s marks from when the wood was cut, and even better – shavings from the carpenters when they built the house in 1790!  These were stuck between the sheathing and the interior wall in the space that exists.

(Blog Credit: Maria Mitchell Association)

Preservation Awards: Call for Nominations

Preservation Awards honor projects, individuals and organizations that have made a positive impact in preserving Nantucket’s historic character.  It is our hope that the awards will continue to encourage proper preservation work, broaden outreach to the building community, and ensure the protection of the island’s historic resources.

If you know of an individual or organization that you feel qualifies for one of the following award categories, please nominate them!  Be sure to include nominee’s name, location of project and how it supports preservation on the island.  Deadline for nominations is March 8th.  Awards will be announced during Preservation Month in late May, with an awards ceremony to follow on June 20th.

Nomination Form
To view our 2012 Award Winners    

Nominations can be emailed to
Fax to: (508) 228-1371 or mail to:
Nantucket Preservation Trust
PO Box 158
Nantucket, MA 02554

Award Categories & Criteria

New! Historical Renovation Award
The Historical Renovation Award recognizes the owner(s) of an historic structure, and when appropriate one or more members of building professionals who assisted in the design and completion of a sensitive new addition to a historic structure. Projects should strictly adhere to the guidelines found in Building With Nantucket in Mind.Architectural Preservation Award:

The NPT Architectural Preservation Award recognizes the owner(s) of an historic structure, and when appropriate one or more members of building professionals who assisted in the completion of the preservation project. Structures may contain additions that are compatible with the historic sections and include exterior and interior work. In order to qualify for the award, preservation of those portions or features that convey the property’s historical, cultural or architectural values is required.Landscape Award:
The Caroline A. Ellis Landscape Award recognizes the owner (s) of an historic landscape, and when appropriate one or more individuals associated with the property such as landscape professionals. The award recognizes the careful stewardship or preservation of a Nantucket landscape associated with an historic structure or area, or the completion of a new design that enhances the historic fabric of the community.Stewardship Award:
The John A. and Katherine Lodge Stewardship Award recognizes an individual, organization or owner(s) of historic property who demonstrate a high degree of commitment to the preservation of the structure(s) and the island. An individual who maintains an historic property or who has played an important part in the preservation of Nantucket also can be nominated for this award.

Traditional Building Methods Award:
The Traditional Building Method Award recognizes craftspeople who promote traditional building methods or who have made a major contribution to the field of historic preservation on island. Recipients must demonstrate a long-time commitment to one or more traditional building methods such as plastering, carpentry, masonry using lime-mortar, or decorative painting.

New Walking Tour App Debuts!

The Nantucket Preservation Trust now makes it possible for you to explore the rich history and architectural heritage of one of the most celebrated streets in America – at your own pace!

“A Walk Down Main Street” self-guiding walking tour app is now available for use on any Apple iOS device.  This tour highlights the histories and architecture of 30 houses between the Pacific National Bank and the Soldiers & Sailors Monument and reveals the story of Nantucket’s whaling prosperity, decline and rebirth.

To Download App:
Go to the Apple App Store and download Locacious (free).  Locacious will ask to use your current location and a map will be displayed, showing where you are.  Look under the tabs marked “featured” or “new” for the three chapters listed below.  Tap the tour name and follow the directions from the screen.

Tour Chapters Include:
Nantucket: A Walk Down Main Street
Nantucket: Main Street Chapter 2
Nantucket: Main Street Chapter 3

Your feedback is valuable to us!  Please email your suggestions and in return, receive a free copy of the book “A Walk Down Main Street” (include your mailing address for book).

NPT Receives Garden Club of America Award

On Wednesday, August 22, 2012  the Nantucket Preservation Trust was honored at the Nantucket Garden Club’s Annual Meeting with a Garden Club of America Award for its “significant contribution to historic preservation” and for its “leadership and dedication to protect and preserve Nantucket’s historic architecture and landscapes through educational programs, apprenticeships, scholarships, research, house histories, and preservation easements.”  We are truly honored to receive this award and also salute the Nantucket Garden Club for its many years of work to educate about the island’s  natural and man-made landscape as well as its tremendous outreach to the Nantucket community.   

Main Street, ‘Sconset book – now for sale!

This summer NPT published a new neighborhood book entitled Main Street, ’Sconset: The Houses and Their Histories, written by Betsy Tyler with contributions by Michael May.  The book filled with nearly 100 photographs, including historic images of the houses and the early owners as well as 19th century maps of the village,  highlights the  development of and architecture along this  main road into the village  The 96 page book is available for $30 (inc S&H).  Click here to buy online.

Thank You from our Executive Director

This year the Nantucket Preservation Trust is celebrating its 15th anniversary as the leading advocate for the preservation and protection of Nantucket’s architectural heritage. Over the years we have strived to develop programs that explore the architecture and history of the island’s buildings, and that increase awareness of the importance and fragility of these resources.

NPT’s growth and success are the direct result of our many supporters including; the 100-plus volunteers who selflessly devote their time and talents; property owners who graciously open their homes for our events; individuals and businesses who participated in our marketplace,  auctions and publications; corporate sponsors of NPT events; our non-profit partners; the dedicated membership; and the 1,000-plus attendees to this year’s summer programs.

We are deeply indebted to all of you and especially those who assisted us with this year’s activities and programs. Each of you, in your own way, is helping to protect the island’s unique collection of historic buildings and special places. Thank you so much for your service and commitment to Nantucket’s incredible architectural heritage.

Michael May
Executive Director