Teaching guide for the historic architecture of Nantucket

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Title:
Teaching guide for the historic architecture of Nantucket
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Mixed Material
Language:
English
Creator:
Dessauer, Peter F.
Publisher:
Peter F. Dessauer
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.

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University of Florida
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TEACHING GUIDE FOR THE HISTORIC

ARCHITECTURE OF NANTUCKET









PETER F. DESSAUER











Supervised by: F. Blair Reeves
Professor of Historic Preservation
University of Florida

























ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


I wish to express my sincere thanks to F. Blair Reeves, Director

of the Nantucket Preservation Institute, for his advice and assistance

in the organization of this project and to whom I feel indebted for

the use of his Konica T-3 camera.


I extend further thanks to Martha Warren, the Institute secretary,

who patiently typed every page of this notebook.








THE TABLE OF CONTENTS


FORWARD i

INTRODUCTION ii

PLATES 1A AND 1B

OLD SHERBURNE 1

EARLY SETTLEMENT HOUSES 2

PLATES 2A AND 2B

THE RICHARD GARDNER HOUSE 3

PLATES 3A, 3B, AND 3C

THE JETHRO COFFIN HOUSE 4

THE LEAN-TO: COLONIAL NANTUCKET 5

LIBERTY STREET 6

PLATES 4A AND 4B

NATHANIEL MACY HOUSE 7

VARIOUS LEAN-TO'S 8

PLATES 5A AND 58

THE QUAKER CONTRIBUTION: THE NANTUCKET HOUSE 9

POST COLONIAL NANTUCKET 12

PLAN FOR NANTUCKET POST COLONIAL ARCHITECTURE 13

ORANGE STREET FEDERAL 14

PLATES 6A AND 6B

MAIN STREET FEDERAL 15

INDIA STREET 16

NANTUCKET GREEK REVIVAL 17

MAIN STREET GREEK REVIVAL 18

JARED COFFIN HOUSE 19

THE COFFIN SCHOOL 20

























TABLE OF CONTENTS CONTINUED:



POST FIRE CENTER STREET 20

SIMPLE GREEK REVIVAL DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE 20

PLATES 7A AND 7B

THE ATHENEUM 21

NANTUCKET GOTHIC 22

PLATES 8, 9A, AND 9B

CONTINUITY OF SCALE 22

BIBLIOGRAPHY 25







FORWARD


During the 1974 summer session of the Nantucket Preservation Institute,

the following project was completed in response to Professor Vernon Hodges'

request for slides and information about Nantucket Architecture which could be

used as source material in the Clemson University College of Architecture

Library,

This notebook is designed as a teaching guide for students interested in

the history of Nantucket and the island's urban and architectural development;

it is also a syllabus for professors who wish to complement and augment their

lectures on American Architecture with examples from Nantucket,

Discussions of history, town planning, styles, streetscapes, and specific

houses are highlighted by corresponding slides, numbered according to subject


and arranged sequentially in the pockets of the plastic pages.

plans and photographs are placed intermittently between pages

visual aid to the reader. Because Nantucket is a living commu

museum, none of the subjects photographed are perfectly posed

setting; telephone poles, wires, automobiles, tourists, and la

shade are all part of the modern townscape and are thus as muc

visual prese~ation as are the buildings described.

This project is by no means a complete syllabus of any as

History and Architecture: it is only a brief synopsis, an int


Plates with

to add a direct

nity, and not a

in an ancient

rge trees with

h a part of my


pect of Nantucket

reduction to the


island's architectural heritage, Hopefully, this notebook and slide presenta-

tion will encourage other Clemson architectural students to take interest in

Preservation and perhaps attend the Preservation Institute on Nantucket which

will put them in a position to contribute further to the sources of the Archi-

tectural Library.







INTRODUCTION: ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CONSIDERATIONS


Tracing the History of Nantucket and its Architecture requires an under-

standing of Nantucketers and the limitations they faced during the settlement

and development of the island.

Since the first landing of settlers in 1659 religion has played a primary

role in the organization of Nantucket Society; whether Puritan, Quaker or any

other Christian Sect; the Congregation was a focal point of society and estab-

lished the social patterns and mores. The influence of religion was much strong-

er in the first hundred-fifty years of Nantucket History when Puritan and Quaker

Ethic dictated a living style and domestic house design; such discipline was

perhaps necessary to demand the cooperation which made the little settlement

endure in its initial stages. However, the success of the whaling industry -

beginning in the mid-1700's gradually brought monetary wealth to Nantucket;

with financial means available Nantucketers were then able to erect structures

in the latest styles, enlarge already existing dwellings, and build their town

with brick and stone materials which lend a sense of permanency, security,

and confidence in a prosperous future. No longer able to control taste and

individual material wealth, churches continued to be influential, for they

had established a tradition of conformity on Nantucket which was still essential

in a community pooling all its efforts in a single major industry.

Nantucket's prosperity was never a self-sufficient one. The island depend-

ed upon trade with the mainland for economic survival; in exchange for whale

oil, Nantucket received building materials and manufactured goods from America.

The large buildings on Nantucket were finished with the help of masons and

carpenters from the principal mainland cities and ports. However, one cannot

overlook the individual ruggedness, the skill, and determination of the Nan-

tucket people; the town itself, its plan and buildings, are a creation of

ii







their pragmatic good sense and industriousness, with only a minimum of outside

help,

Nantucket History is not without the usual series of jolts which also af-

fected mainland America, During the Revolution and the War of 1812 Nantucket

lost hundreds of vessels and her crews were impressed by all sides involved. In

1846 a fire leveled theBusiness District which took two years to rebuild. The

California Gold Rush of 1849 and the Civil War deprived Nantucket of her manpow-

er and temporarily reduced the whaling industry to only a fraction of its former

production. Nantucket was able to survive, overcome these disasters, and despite

the short term drawbacks, recovered quickly. Ironically, it was a discovery,

which would be a boon to the world's economy, that brought an end to Nantucket's

prosperity. The discovery of petroleum in 1859 and the production of kerosene,

a fuel which was cheaper and available in larger quantities than whale oil,

spelled doom for the whaling industry. During the latter half of the 19th cen-

tury Nantucket experienced economic depression which depopulated the island.

At the turn of the century the summer tourist colonies were established, and

since then tourism has been the mainstay of the small Nantucket community.

The fifty year depression brought a halt to the building boom on Nantucket;

thus, the Nantucket townscape is very weak in examples of late 19th Century

Architecture the Eclectic Victorian Styles. For this reason, this paper is

limited to a discussion of Nantucket during its most prolific years early

settlement planning and the century of whaling prosperity which built the

island's finest structures.
















ii



0sn


PLATE 1A
TAKEN FROM LANCASTER'S
THE ARCHITECTURE OF
HISTORIC NANTUCKET:
FIGURE I, PAGE 2


crs-' z

*2
























































I---- One Quaer Mile II
Fig. 2 Nantucket Town, Locating Early Lot-Layout Plans on the Harbor and Outline of the 1955 Historic District.

4 Tll. ARCHIIT-ECTURE OF HISTORIC NANTUCKET PLATE 1B
TAKEN FROM LANCASTER'S
E ARCHITECTURE OF
HISTORIC NANTUCKET:
FIGURE 2, PAGE 4













OLD SHERBURNE


Incorporated in 1671, Sherburne, the first white settlement on Nantucket,

was located west and south of the present town around Cappamet Harbor (Plate 1A),

This village, now referred to as "Old Sherburne", was basically a medieval en-

glish plan consisting of a series of house lots around a sheep commons; the first

structures were simple one room houses constructed in the medieval heavy timber

tradition with a high pitched gable .roof and loft. Within a generation storm

action and shifting sand bars blockaded Cappamet and turned this small inlet

into a pond, now called Capaum, Thus, the focus of the settlement turned east-

ward towards the large natural harbor of Nantucket Island,

As early as 1678, the land in the center of what was to become Nantucket

Town, had been divided into shares among the proprietors; these 20 narrow

strips of land, titled "Wesco Lots" (Plate 1B), stretched from the shore some

80 rods long and two wide, and included Broad, Liberty, India, Federal, Center,

and Main Streets The first increments of the town plano With the construction

of the first wharfs in 1716 and 1723, Nantucket established its economic ties

with the sea; working port facilities encouraged trade with the mainland, a

thriving fishing industry, and the final migration of settlers from the Old

Sherburne site to new lands south of Wescoe the "Fish Lots" (1717) and

"West Monomoy" (1723); these developments extended the limits of the new town

southward and created Orange, Pine, and Fair Streets which branch off in that

direction from Main Street. By the middle of the 18th century Sherburne had

developed the urban patterns and plan of the great whaling town it would be-

come by 1795, when it formally changed its name to Nantucket.











EARLY SETTLEMENT HOUSES


Research into the earliest houses on the island has ascertained that they

were simple one room one loft gable cottages built in accordance with medieval

traditions brought to the New World from England. Medieval elements heavy

timber framing from the architecture of Old Sherburne persisted in the con-

struction and design of 18th century Nantucket buildings. In the move of

the Sherburne settlement from Capaum Pond to Wescoe and the Fish Lots, whole

houses were disassembled and moved piece by piece to be incorporated into new

structures; the front chamber, porch, and chimney of the John Folger House,

10 Pine Street, is made from the former Nathaniel Starbuck House which origi-

nally was located at Hummock Pondl; from the measurements of this space it can

be conjectured that the Nathaniel Starbuck House at Sherburne was a 20' x 30'

dwelling, with three bays two for casement windows and then the door, behind

which was a wedged stairway leading to the loft; the chimney abutted the gable,

the hearth being just on the other side of the stair wall. Fragments of heavy

timber construction and examples of the english medieval style are certainly

exhibited in the following houses:


The last three

above, and all

to their north


Jethro Coffin (1686)

Zaccheus Macy (1700)

Thomas Macy (1717)

Richard Gardner (1674)

conform to the simple rectangular three bay design described

four were later converted to lean-to's, with shed roof additions

side.


1 Clay Lancaster, The Architecture of Historic Nantucket, po 16.











THE RICHARD GARDNER HOUSE (1674)


Slide No's, 1
Plates 2A and 28

The Richard Gardner House today is mostly a restoration done by Mr. Alfred

Shurrock, AoI.A,, in 1927; the present appearance is a conjectural combination

of the medieval elements of the original structure (1674) and added lean-to

portions built circa 1700,

According to Shurrock the original house was a simple one room, one loft

medieval structure, evinced and defined by the corner posts rounded brackets

on the first story and wide brackets called "gun-stocks" on the second. Other

medieval features on the exterior are the front door head an elliptical curve,

casement windows, and a withed chimney at the gable end. The elaborate timber

framing, exposed in the interior, is among the best illustrations of medieval

building techniques on Nantucket; each of the posts and chamfered girts and

plates are tongued and pegged together; spanning the ceiling are two summer

beams which support the floor joists of the loft; the in-fill between wall

studs was originally strips of bark and layers of plaster on boards.

With its high pitched roof, built on purlined rafters, and a probable

facing of clapboards or clinkers, the Gardner House of 1674 conformed to the

common English tastes of the 17th century, and thus has been labeled a

"Jacobean House" by the Nantucket architectural historian Henry Chandlee For-

man. However, the rectangular gable structure was too Anglican for the puri-

tan ethos which dominated Nantucket society at this time; therefore, pressures

to sublimate "unessential" architectural features and practical building ex-

pediences dictated all later extensions in a humble shed roof style, which con-

verted the Gardner House into a lean-to, a fate shared by the already mentioned

Thomas and Zaccheus Macy, Gardner, and Jethro Coffin Houses.






























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PLATE 2A
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139 MAIN STREET
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PLATE 2B
TAKEN FROM H. C. FORMAN'S
EARLY NANTUCKET AND ITS
WHALE HOUSES: PAGE 224











JETHRO COFFIN HOUSE


Slide NoB's 2 and 3
Plates 3A, 3B and 3C

Labeled "The Oldest House" by local folklore, the Jethro Coffin House is

an advancement in domestic plan over other Old Sherburne buildings; this "Hall

and Parlor" dwelling was basically two rooms, one on either side of a central

chimney, entrance parlor, and stairway leading up to a two room second story

with loft. If an early Nantucket settler possessed the means to build it, such

a house could comfortably accommodate a large family the great room serving

as Kitchen and eating space, the parlor as a living room, and the upstairs for

sleeping. Circa 1700 the shed roof aisle of three small rooms was added to the

north side the back turning the house into a lean-to; these back rooms or

cells with an additional hearth became the kitchen area and provided extra in-
2
sulation for the front rooms,

In 1923 the Jethro Coffin house became a possession of the Nantucket His-

torical Association which commissioned Alfred Shurrock, A.I.A,, to make a res-

toration to the date of construction 1686. The result is a partial restora-

tion, showing the lean-to house with shingle exterior and casements much larger

than the originals would have been, According to Shurrock's investigations,

the front plate beam for the rafters was morticed to accommodate the framing of

twin gables, which undoubtedly provided southward fenestration for the second

story rooms; both historians, Henry Chandlee Forman and Clay Lancaster, be-

lieve that such gables existed in the first phase of the house; examples of

front gables can be found on the Turner House, otherwise known as "The House


2 Henry Chandlee Forman, Early Nantucket And Its Whale Houses, p. 231,










































PLATE 3A
THE JETHRO COFFIN HOUSE
EXAMPLE OF AN EARLY
CONVERTED LEAN-TO.


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PLATE 3B
TAKEN FROM H. C. FORMAN'S
EARLY NANTUCKET AND ITS
WHALE HOUSES: PAGE 234


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PLATE 3C
TAKEN FROM H. C. FORMANS
EARLY NANTUCKET AND ITS
WHALE HOUSES: PAGE 235









of Seven Gables" (built before 1670), and the John Ward House (1684) of Salem,

Massachusetts; even Shurrock's drawings for the restoration include the gables,

but why he did not or was not allowed to reconstruct them is not known. Thus,

the present restoration does not portray an accurate picture of the house upon

its 1686 completion'3

The year 1700 as a date for the shed addition on the rear is conjectural;

however, a much lower ceiling in the back aisle and smaller beams, in different

pattern, supporting the loft joists suggest a definite addition; the exterior

walls of the front rooms were insulated with clay fill, which, lacking in the

rear lean-to aisle, is further evidence of different construction periods.

The front gables were probably removed during the lean-to phase to comply with

puritan restrictions,4


THE LEAN-TO: COLONIAL NANTUCKET

The lean-to house is characterized by its two story front and long catslide

roof which extends from the roof ridge down to the top of the first story on

the back. The catslide was usually on a northern exposure to catch the winter

winds and direct them over the structure, plus help to conserve heat in the

building by reducing the size of the rear aisle chambers to only the minimum

necessary height and dimensions; extensions with shed roofs could be easily

added to the main house and still retain the synthesis of design; such a

structure appealed to the puritan sense of function, pragmatism, and economy.

Thus, the lean-to, also referred to as the "salt box", was prevalent through-



3 Henry Chandlee Forman, op. cit., p. 20-22.

4 Henry Chandlee Forman, ibid, pgs. 232-236.

Clay Lancaster, ibid, pgs. 20-22.














out New England and was the predominant style in Nantucket during the colonial

period.

Coupled with the popularity of the lean-to was an innovation in fenestra-

tion the sash window. Composed of rectangular panes of glass between wood

muntins, the sash window had a fixed upper frame and a bottom frame capable of

being raised. The sashes on the lean-to's were windows with 12/12 or 9/9 pane

frames; being much larger than casements, sash windows let in more light into

the lean-to house.

Better illumination through sash windows on the front (south) and a well

insulated interior with deep sloping roof mark the lean-to as an adjustment of

medieval english traditions to the extremes of New England climate and the best

practical solution for a dwelling in such a pioneer atmosphere.

LIBERTY STREET


Slide No,'s 4 and 5, Looking east and west down Liberty from the center of the
street,

Like other notable streets of Nantucket, Liberty exhibits a combination of

different architectural styles Colonial, Post Colonial, Greek and Gothic Revi-

val, The best on Liberty are six of the original houses all colonial which

were built between 1720 and 1756. Only two of these dwellings, Noo's 12 and 15,

retain their saltbox form, the others having undergone alterations. The best

of these, which has been little changed since construction, is the Nathaniel

Macy House, No. 12 Liberty, which is now a house museum operated by the Nantucket

Historical Association,









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NATHANIEL MACY HOUSE

Slide No, 6
Plates 4A and 4B

The history of the development of the-Nathaniel Macy House is perhaps typi-

cal of any lean-to; the final plan was a result of several building stages over

a period of two decades, According to Clay Lancaster the first rooms of this

house came from previous structures transported to Liberty from Old Sherburne

in 1723; by 1745 when ownership was conveyed from Thomas Macy to his son Nathan-

iel, the house was a complete lean-to; 2 1/2 stories high, five full bays, a

clapboard front fascade, 12/12 sash windows, an elaborate withed chimney on the

ridge of the roof, a center door with transom and stoop, and the final rear

addition with catslide giving the dwelling its saltbox profile,

The Nathaniel Macy House is just one example of what Clay Lancaster calls

an "integral lean-to" constructed in pieces, the front rooms first, with the

catslide and shed roof extensions coming as later additions; this process has

already been described in the transformation of the Jethro Coffin House. Another

method of construction is the "half house" 3 lean-to bays built before two

more on the other side of the central chimney, the final addition coming at a

later date when resources permitted. Examples on Nantucket are the Tristam

Bunker (slide no. 11) on No. 3 Bear Street and No. 53 Orange Street (slide 54),

The plan of the Nathaniel Macy House follows a basic pattern of all full

lean-to dwellings. Rooms are.arranged around a central chimney; the two large

rooms at the front of the house were the original parlor and old kitchen, the

latter having a hearth 8 1/2 feet wide; with the lean-to addition the kitchen

was located directly behind the chimney with a hearth seven feet wide and a

baking oven; at each end of the shed aisle were two small chambers a morning

room and milk room. The front door opened up into a narrow porch and stairway;











on the second floor the two main bedrooms were at the front and two smaller rooms

on the shed side also served as bedrooms or as storage, as did the loft above in

the gable roof,

The Nathaniel Macy House breaks one fundamental rule of colonial salt-box

houses it faces north, the shed roof towards the south. This change is ex-

plained by its urban site, all houses on streets facing the pavement and one

another; the Nathaniel Macy House is on the south side of Liberty, its fascade

well protected from the elements by the rows of houses in front of it and on

parallel streets.


VARIOUS LEAN-TO'S


Slide No, 7

The Matthew Myrick House, No, 6 Prospect Street, was originally built on

Milk Street and then moved to its present site in 1800. Because of the fenes-

tration differences between the opposite sides of the house, it is possible

to surmise (according to Clay Lancaster) that this structure was first complet-

ed in the half-house stage before the addition of the final bays.

Slide No, 8

Distinctive features of the Josiah Coffin House (ca. 1724), 60 Cliff Road,

are the chimney with 5 withes and thin 4 pane sash above the door, According

to Clay Lancaster, it was the crudity of the roof cornice, the modillions, and

fenestration (upper windows 20 panes / lower 24 panes) that permitted this

decoration on a shingle lean-to,

Slide No. 9

The Thomas Macy House (1717) on Tattle Court is an example of what Clay

Lancaster calls an "integral lean-to", The house was originally three bays in











the English Medieval style; shed roof extensions to the north and east sides

create the appearance of a lean-to "half house" which was never completed

Slide Noo 10

The Tristam Bunker House, No, 3 Bear Street, was originally built in the

1720's and then moved (cao 1756) to lot 18 of the West Monomoy shares, its

present site The most unique feature of the house is its two bay fascade,

perhaps an indication of half house construction.

Slide No,'s 11 and 12

The Elihu Coleman House (ca, 1722) on Hawthorne Lane is located on one of

the original western sites of Old Sherburneo It is a two story lean-to, which

faces south, with three large bays a central doorway with one window above

and one bay on either side with one window per story. All five windows are

8/12 sash.

Slide No, 13

The west section of the Zaccheus Macy House, No. 107 Main Street, was mov-

ed from Old Sherburne around 1700 to its present site, Considerable alterations

and additions arrived at the 18th century saltbox form.

THE QUAKER CONTRIBUTION: THE NANTUCKET HOUSE

In the early decades of the eighteenth century Nantucket began to receive

a steady flow of Quaker immigrants from the mainland. Quakers were noted for

their thrift, honesty and industriousness coupled with their serene sense of

function and distaste for useless ornamentation; not only did they contribute

to the advancement of the whaling industry and to the religious heritage of

the island, but also to its architecture. Their domestic style is called the

Nantucket House, since it is a regional design found no where else in such

large numbers; the Nantucket House is an integral part of every street on the






































PLATE 5A
THE JOB MACY HOUSE
S 11 MILK STREET
NANTUCKET HOUSE DESIGN







Mill Street.


Job Macy House.











island; according to Clay Lancaster some 20% of all town dwellings prior to the
5
civil war were a manifestation of this type.

The Nantucket House is an outgrowth of the lean-to plan and design, and

like it has a basic pattern, best illustrated by the layout of the Job Macy

House (plate 5), Rooms are grouped around a chimney into which are built the

hearths of the parlor, chamber, and kitchen; however, the chimney shaft and

entrance way are in different bays, thus facilitating circulation to and fro

all rooms and creating a corner in the house for stairhall, staircase, closet,

and pantry. The back of the house is elevated to a full 2 stories allowing

room arrangements on the second floor to match perfectly that which is below;

the gable roof adds a 1/2 story loft. The 4 bays arranged into two windows,

door, one window show indifference to symmetry but an improvement and ex-

pansion of fenestration; the Nantucket House had seven front windows and a

transom over the door, The original Nantucket Houses were barren of aesthet-

ics--shingle and sash being the essential functional trim. Later, with the

influx of classical embellishment of the Federal Period,Nantucket Houses were

clapboarded, painted, bracketed, and furnished with the proper door and win-

dow moldingso

The Nantucket House began to appear along the streets of Nantucket as

early as the 1760's, but it wasn't until after the Revolutionary War that the

style flourished, the last decade of the 18th century being its most prolific

period. The adaptability and versatility of its simple plan explains the lon-

gevity of the Nantucket House; for a century it was a popular contemporary of


5 Clay Lancaster, ibid,, po 59.










the colonial, federal, and Greek Revival styles, After the 1848 Fire it came

to an abrupt end; the center of town was rebuilt and future generations of Nan-

tucketers sought other patterns of domestic development

Slide No. 14: The Job Macy House

Plates 5A and 5B

The original form of the Job Macy House (ca. 1790), 11 Mill Street, before

the 19th century additions to the rear, is one of the island's best examples of

a pure Nantucket House. Quaker propriety ascribed a shingle exterior and a low-

er second story ceiling which brought the edge of the roof to the top of the

windows; this depression can also be observed in the Hezekiah Swain House describ-

ed below, Differences in window widths are typical of early Nantucket Houses;

on the Job Macy House the first story windows are one 9/9 sash and two 12/12;

the upper windows two 8/12 and two 6/9.

After 1812, when Nantucket was recovering from a temporary depression caused

by the war with Britain, Quaker restrictions were relaxed; it became popular to

make additions to the rear and extensions to the sides of Nantucket houses. The

vogue for such additions varied considerably depending upon function, materials,

and finances.

Slide No. 15

The Hezekiah Swain House (ca, 1790) of No. 1 Vestal Street is famous for

later becoming the home of Nantucket's famous lady astronomer Maria Mitchell.

The floor plan is an inversion of the Job Macy House and has 9/9 as well as

12/12 sashes on the first and second stories. At the beginning of the nine-

teenth century a service wing, the new kitchen, was added to the back of the

room formerly used for cooking.


6 Clay Lancaster, ibid., po 70










Slide No. 16

The gambrel roof Nantucket house of 32 Union Street 'has a clapboard front

and shingle sides, Modern alterations on the first bay next to the door account

for the two windows on the first story,

Slide No, 17

The Nantucket house on 16 Pleasant Street demonstrates a combination of

materials cedar shingles, plus brick on the sides. A service el was added to

the rear,

Slide No, 18

The Captain Reuban B. Bunker House (ca, 1806) on Church Lane, Academy Hill,

was extensively remodeled in 1820, when it was extended one bay, clapboarded,

and bracketed at the corners with quoins,

Slide No. 19

During the nineteenth century the Captain Seth Pinkham House, 40 Fair Street,

was greatly altered and enlarged a service el (kitchen) and shed added to the

rear. Note the painted fascade, blinds, and 6/6 sashes.


POST-COLONIAL NANTUCKET


With the conclusion of hostilities in 1783, Nantucket's recovery to previous

economic performance was immediate and profitable. In the decades that followed

the revolution up to the middle of the nineteenth century Nantucket experienced

steady growth and progress; except for some reverses suffered during the War of

1812, this success was so fluent that by 1830 Nantucket had become the world's

leading whaling center,

As a result of its flourishing whaling industry, Nantucket became a cosmo-

politan port, bringing in so much wealth and so many different people and ideas

that the town gradually adopted new attitudes and modes of expression; no longer











were puritan reserve and Quaker conformity universally heeded; streets were laid

with cobblestone, many houses built of brick, and classical ornamentation and

revival styles abounded. However, the medieval antecedents were not totally ex-

tinguished, but rather submerged; the practice of having a central chimney per-

sisted in many cases (e.g. the 1800 House), and heavy braced timber framing re-

mained the basic mode of construction, The lean-to did reach a dead end when

post war affluence encouraged Nantucketers to build larger more ostentatious

homes. According to their means Nantucketers added trim, moldings, and rear ad-

joining el's to their homes; Main and Orange Streets became the sites for the

most fashionable and outstanding dwellings on the island.


PLAN FOR NANTUCKET POST-COLONIAL ARCHITECTURE

Plate 9A

Architectural historians have given the name "Federal" to the architecture

of the first four and five decades of post-colonial America, The meaning of

this term is rather controversial since styles change and vary at different times

in different places; as far as Nantucket is concerned "Federal" is applied not.

to all buildings erected after the Revolution but to those especially which show

signs of new design and divergence from the old Puritan and Quaker rules, Sym-

metry and balance in the form of chimneys at the gable ends, lower pitch roofs,

and large 6/6 sash windows were methods to open the interior of a house for more

space, more rooms, and more light. Doorways became works of art and fenestra-

tion; transoms above and sidelights flanking a beautifully molded portal brought

light into a stair hall which permitted passage into siderooms the chamber and

parlor, upstairs to bedrooms (no longer reduced by catslides), or straight ahead

to the kitchen in the rear, Thus, house plans could vary enormously, were more

spaciously comfortable, and provided better access and egress,










ORANGE STREET FEDERAL


Slide No, 20 view of Orange from Main Street

One of the best scenes of Early Federal Architecture on Nantucket is Orange

Street, originally created from the parceling of the Fish and Monomoy Lots and

the busiest route into Nantucket from the south. Along Orange Street were built

houses for ship captains and businessmen, duplex apartments, some of the island's

first brick buildings, and the Unitarian Church.

Slide No.'s 21 the house

22 brick bond detail

No. 5 Orange Street is a gambrel roof building, the date of construction

estimated circa 1793, The brick exterior replaced clapboards in the early

1830's. The slide shows the different courses and types of brick used; the

front fascade is hydraulic pressed brick in common bond; the sides (north and

south) are of hand molded brick in America bond, and the back of the structure

is white painted clapboards, This house is an example of how the best materials

were used for fascades, the interior or less sophisticated for the inconspic-

uous sides,

Slide No. 23

The Unitarian Church (ca. 1809) makes a handsome urban landmark. The cedar

shingle exterior establishes a continuity of style and taste with other Nantucket

buildings. Its tower and gold cupola is the first of its kind in Nantucket and

complements the tower and steeple of the Congregational Church; both add a rich

character to the town's skyline,

Slide No, 24 and 25

These five apartments, No.'s 15, 17, 19, 21, and 23 are called the "Block";

built in 1831 for Philip H, Folger, they are among the few duplex rows on Nan-

tucket, The high brick basement with stoop and steps, the door with transom and





























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PLATE 61E
THE HENRY COFFIN HOUSE
75 MAIN STREET
BRICK FEDERAL RESIDENCE


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.-IENRY COFFIN HOUSE
F .PLAN JIRT. FLOOR


SSCALE 1/f '10"


SITTING ROOM











WESTAPARLOR


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PLATE 6B
HENRY COFFIN HOUSE
FLOOR PLAN


KITCHEN










sidelights, 6/6 paned windows with blinds, dormers and small chimneys all are

characteristics of the rich ingredients and furnishings of Nantucket Federal

Architecture,


MAIN STREET FEDERAL


Nantucketers speak of "Upper" and "Lower" Main, two divisions of the same

street, Lower Main is the Business District which stretches from the Rotch Mar-

ket off Straight Wharf, up to the Pacific National Banko "Upper" Main was es-

tablished as a neighborhood by the richest citizens of Nantucket the merchants

and businessmen who grossed fortunes from the whaling industry. From Rotch Mar-

ket up to the War Monument at the junction with Gardner Street Main is paved

with cobblestones and divided by granite curbstones used for crossings; the

sidewalks are laid in brick; the elms which line and shade Main Street were

planted in the middle of the last century; in 1854 gas lights were installed in

the business district,

Along the Main Street block between Fair and Pine Streets are located the

finest Nantucket houses built in the first three decades of the 19th century.

Slide No. 26

The Masonic Lodge (1802), No. 63 Main Street, displays the fanciest adam-

esque trim and molding on the island. The structure was originally five bays

but two were removed to accommodate an addition to the Pacific National Bank.

In the 1830's the first story was remodeled in the Greek revival style for a

store front,

Slide No,.s 27 and 28

Plates 6A and 6B

The Henry Coffin House (1832), No, 75 Main Street, is a Late Federal struc-

ture of common bond brick, 2 1/2 stories high, with a five bayed fascade and end











chimneys connected by parapets, with balustraded.insets over the windows, The

central doorway is recessed, with sidelights and framing Tuscan Columns on the

front On the top of the house is a cupola belvedere,

The plan of the Henry Coffin House illustrates the most important innova-

tions of Federal Architecture: the gable end chimneys provide hearths for the

major rooms; a central hall, extending from the front door directly to the back

and dividing the house into east and west sides, provides easy and equal access

to all parts of the house and upstairs, The piazza on the back is a classical

feature which would become a part of the Greek Revival on Nantucket and, in the

form of front veranda, an essential aspect of Victorian houses.

Slide No, 29

In 1820 John Wendell Barret, President of the Pacific National Bank, com-

missioned John Coleman to design and build his home on No. 72 Main Street.

The result is a house with decoration and spaces anticipating the Greek Revival

a decade before that style became popular on Nantucket. The five bay fascade

is flanked by pilasters and bordered above by a parapet with balustraded insets.

The portico on the front is defined by Ionic columns,


INDIA STREET

Slide 30 lookingvwst down India

Planned in the Wesco Lots development of 1678, Pearl Street was often called

"India Row" to describe its posh houses and the luxury of the inhabitants there-

in, This nickname, first pronounced by Joseph Samsom in the January 11, 1811,

issue of The Port Folio, persisted; in 1956 the Nantucket Historical Society

designated Upper Pearl Street as India Street and has labeled it in this manner

on all Historic District Maps,










Slide No, 31

With its three bays, recessed doorway with. sidelights, 6/6 pane windows,

and two chimneys on the west end, this dwelling, no 12 India Street, represents

a style in transition Late Federal to domestic Greek Revival.

Slide No. 32

The Silas Paddock House (ca. 1767), no, 18 India, is a fine example of a

1 1/2 story gambrel roof house; the west end, under a shed roof, served as a

rum shop,


NANTUCKET GREEK REVIVAL

The zenith of Nantucket prosperity and development is marked by the advent

of Greek Revival buildings constructed during the 1830's and 1840's. During

those decades of the 19th century Nantucket was acknowledged as the leading

whaling port in the world; the inflow of wealth created the impetus for the

construction of such buildings as the Atheneum, the Jared Coffin House, the.

Starbuck Residences, the Hadwen Mansions, and the Coffin School,

The Greek Revival on Nantucket is manifested in a variety which includes

white palatial houses with two story colonaded porticos, rows of wooden commer-

cial buildings, red brick residences which resemble the Federal houses on Main

Street and common neighborhood dwellings with pedimented gable ends facing the

streets, White columns and pediments are distinguishing elements of the Greek

Revival, but the common feature of all true Greek Revival structures and the

variations of this style on Nantucket is the treatment of the doorway broad

flat pilasters with Greek capitals and bases flanking a door with two full length

panels topped by a Greek entablature with lentils; molding and trim following

the precise rules of the Greek order differentiates the Greek Revival from the

Classical Roman and Renaissance details of the Federal Style,










The history of Greek Revival on Nantucket is divided into two periods -

anterior and posterior to the great fire of 1846 which destroyed the Business

District and wharves, including the Atheneum. Prior to the fire, such mansions

as the Hadwen Houses, the three Starbucks, and the Jared Coffin were erected to

complement already existing Federal mansions and to adorn the Nantucket street-

scape. Post fire reconstruction (Plate 9B) made a new commercial district with

shops and offices built in a Greek Revival commercial style; new residences with

Greek moldings and pedimented gables replaced the burned out colonial dwellings,

MAIN STREET GREEK REVIVAL

Slide No. 33 and 34

Clay Lancaster calls the Charles G, Coffin House, No. 78 Main Street, a

simplified Greek Revival House; it has all the appearances of a handsome Fed-

eral brick structure, but the pilastered brownstone doorway is "decidedly

Greek".7 The house plan is an inversion of the Henry Coffin Residence (Plate 7).

On the Main Street block between Pleasant, Pine, and Winter Streets stand

the most palatial structures on Nantucket: The Hadwen Mansions (slide No. 35)

and the three Starbuck Houses (slide No. 36).

Slide No, 37

Built in 1845 and designed by Frederick Brown Coleman, this Greek Revival

mansion, No, 94 Main Street, with its Corinthian columns was a gift from William

Hadwen to his niece,

Slide No. 38

The mate of the Hadwen niece house, No. 86 was the spacious residence of

William Hadwen. Today this Ionic porticoed mansion is a house museum and prop-

erty of the Nantucket Historical Association.


7 Clay Lancaster, ibid., p. 153.














Slide No. 39

I have chosen the "West Brick", No. 97, for a front view example of the Star-

buck Houses, The three were built by Joseph Starbuck for his three sons William,

Matthew, and George; all three houses contain the same architectural elements -

Distyle Greek Ionic Portico, parapet and cupola, granite steps, and a five bayed

common brick fascade.


JARED COFFIN HOUSE

Slide No. 40

Situated on the west end of Broad Street and looking south down Center Street,

the Jared Coffin House commands a dominating position and view the northwest

corner of the commercial district at the junction of Center, Broad, and Quince

Streets. A full three stories high the Jared Coffin is a distinct town landmark.

Completed in 1845 the Jared Coffin House illustrates the similar features

of brick Greek Revival residences on Nantucket: a five bayed brick fascade, para-

pet with balustraded insets aligned with the windows, square cupola, and center

door with Distyle Ionic Portico.

After the 1846 fire the Coffins moved to Boston, Sold to the Nantucket

Steamboat Co. in 1847, the house became a hotel and served in that capacity for

several decades; President Grant, the first President of the United States to

visit Nantucket, stayed there overnight.

In 1961 the Nantucket Historical Trust bought the hotel, restored it, and

gave it the original name Jared Coffin House. Today the Jared Coffin is again

a hotel, featuring its original splendor and furniture,










THE COFFIN SCHOOL

Slide No. 41

In the likeness of an ancient Greek temple, the Coffin School, nestled in

the shade of covering oaks provides an idyllic picture of a small but important

institution. Built in 1852, this school stands on Winter Street just a few

paces from the junction with Main. The endowment for this institution was made

in 1827 by Isaac Coffin, Baronet of the British Navy; the school was housed in

other structures until finances accumulated for the construction of the present

building. The front is a false doorway with wooden doric columns and brick

dentals in entablature.

POST FIRE CENTER STREET

Slide No,'s 42 looking north

43 looking south

These pictures of Center Street exemplify the types of commercial buildings

constructed after the 1846 Fire in the Greek Revival Styleo

At the left hand side of slide 4- is the Pacific National Bank at the head

of Main Street. Following the bank is the Methodist Church with its colossal

Ionic portico,

In the middle of slide 43 is the Sherburne Building, the largest commer-

cial building along "Petticoat Row",

SIMPLE GREEK REVIVAL DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE


Not all Greek Revival buildings are built on a palatial scale and order

Small residences, usually with three bays, pilastered doorway, stoop, and pedi-

mented gable facing the street, replaced those which were destroyed in the Fire;

the houses on No, 8 Water Street and No, 86 Main Street illustrate clapboarded

























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PLATE 7A
ATHENEUM, 1 INDIA STREET
(LOWER PEARL STREET)
GREEK REVIVAL


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PLATE 7B
FLOOR PLAN OF THE
ATHENEUM: EXTERIOR
DIMENSIONS@ 52J x 721











Greek Revival residence, painted white like their monumental contemporaries -

the Hadwen Houses, the Atheneum, and the Methodist Churcho

Slide No. 44

Greek Revival House, No. 8 Water Street; built after the 1846 Fireo

Slide No. 45

The Coffin Crosby Dwelling is an Eclectic-Greek Revival House, No 86 Main

Street; built in the 1830's; in the middle of the pediment is a Gothic window,


THE ATHENEUM

Slide No. 46

Plates 7A and 7B

In the center of Nantucket Town and in the center of the Business District

stands the Atheneum, an institutional Greek Revival building which is now a

public library0 On the east side of Federal Street the Atheneum is in line with

the other municipal buildings Post Office, Bureau of Information, Town Hall,

etCo The grounds and building occupy a square block, the front facing that part

of India Street called Lower Pearl,

Like the Hadwen and Coffin Houses on Main Street, the Atheneum was designed

by Frederick Brown Coleman, one of the few architects associated with buildings

on Nantucket0 At first the Atheneum was a Universalist Church (1825) which be-

came a library in 1834. The original structure with a full front portico of

four Ionic Columns was destroyed by the Conflagration of 1846o The new Atheneum

has a double pedimented front, pilastered corners, and a pilastered recessed

doorway with two intervening Ionic Columns, The exterior is flushboards, paint-

ed white, to create the smooth pure impression which Americans imagined was

the reality of ancient Greek monuments in their prime centuries ago.

Since the conversion of the library to public use in 1900, the interior of











the Atheneum has been altered to accommodate numerous books and stacks. The

second floor, not shown on the plate, is a meeting hall for private use,


NANTUCKET GOTHIC


The Gothic Revival was never prolific on Nantucket, but some of its ele-

ments and principal features are definitely in evidence on a few buildings,

and thus, should be noted in order to complete an accurate documentation of

the variety which is Nantucket.

Slide No. 47

Plate 8

The First Congregationalist Church was built in 1834 in front of Old North

Vestry, the first building to house the congregation, which had been moved to

this Beacon Hill site from Old Sherburne in 1765. The Gothic Revival church ex-

hibits the tallest tower in Nantucket Town, which, coupled with its natural

elevation, makes this feature the highest landmark.

Slide No. 48

This small residence, No. 4 North Water Street, is an eclectic Greek-Gothic

Revival design its high pitch roof in contrast to the columns which surround

the exterior, However, because of its small size, such a dwelling fits into the

continuity and scale of the block and does not clash with the predominate Greek

Revival style of the other houses.


CONTINUITY OF SCALE


The most outstanding feature of the townscape and architecture of Nantucket

is the continuity of all its elements; there exists a mutual cohesion between

all buildings and streets wherein no single part overshadows, diminishes, or

displaces the others, Such a continuity is due to an intrinsic sense of con-
















































I


PLATE 8A
TOWER AND STEEPLE OF THE
"OLD NORTH CHURCH"
NANTUCKET GOTHIC REVIVAL


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formity inherent in the Nantucket character which established a town wherein vari-

ation exists on a common scale so that a consciousness of a single identity and

unity are everpresent, It is the preservation of this whole the old houses and

streets readapted to the needs of a modern community which makes Nantucket so

unique and attractive,

The reality of this continuity has already been illustrated in slides show-

ing streetscapes of India, Liberty, Center, Orange, and Main, The following

slides serve to fortify this point and show the relation of streets and houses

to certain Nantucket Landmarks.

Slide No, 49

View of Union Street, the neighborhood of the whaling ship skippers, with

the gold cupola of the Unitarian Church in the background

Slide No, 50'

Second view of Union, looking north; around the bend in the background Union

Street continues to its juncture with Main,

Slide No. 51

The Rotch Market, also known as the Pacific Club for old salts and skippers,

at the bottom of Main Street; picture taken at the juncture of Union and Main

Streets,

Slide No, 52

View up Main Street; at the far end of the Business-District is the Pacific

National Bank, visible in the background,

Slide No. 53

The Sweet Shop on Main Street, catering to the tourist clientele passion for

ice cream, cake, and coffee,
















Slide No 54

View up Orange Street, looking' north, with No. 53, a "half house" lean-to,

in the left foreground.

Slide No. 55

Main Street continues past Orange, the Pacific National Bank, and Fair

Street widening into the block shown here, with the most beautiful Federal

houses and a handsome specimen of the Second Empire Style.

Slide No, 56

Main Streets example of Victorian Pericd Architecture Second Empire Style

with steep mansard belvedere.

Slide No. 57

Entrance to the old Ford Dealership garage, No. 2 South Beach Street -

now the home of the Nantucket Preservation Institute.

Slide No. 58

View of the steeple of the Congregationalist Church from the bottom of Sea

Street,

Slide No. 59

View of the Congregationalist Tower and Steeple on Beacon Hill.

Slide No, 60

View of the tower and cupola of the Unitarian Church from the background of

the John Wendell Barret House,
























25


BIBLIOGRAPHY


Forman, Henry Chandlee, Early Nantucket And Its Whale House, Hastings
House, Publishers, New York, 1966


Lancaster, Clay, The Architecture of Historic Nantucket, McGraw-Hill, Inc.,
New York, 1972.


Ramirez, Constance Werner, The Historic. Architecture and Urban Design of
Nantucket, Distributed by the Smithsonian Institute, Library of Congress Catalog
Number 77-135-036,






















T-

!1-


NANTUCKET BYCYCYCLE SALT-BOX

ALONG SOUTH WATER STREET ACROSS
FROM THE ATHENEUM AND IN FRONT
OF THE PRESERVATION INSTITUTE
IS A SMALL PARK- THE PICKUP
POINT FOR THE ISLAND TOUR
BUSES AND A STATION FOR BYCY-
CYLES SHELTERED IN SMALL SHINGLE
LEAN-TO'S.


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NANTUCKET WHARVES

BUSINESSMAN AND FINANCIER WALTER
BEINECKE, Jr., THE PRESIDENT OF
SHERBURNE ASSOCIATES, HAS REBUILT
THE WHARVES OF NANTUCKET REPLACING
ROTTING DECADENCE AND OIL SLICKS
WITH NEW STRUCTURES, APARTMENTS
AND SHOPS IN THE SHINGLE STYLE-
HERE EXEMPLIFIED BY THOSE IN THE
ABOVE PHOTO OF OLD NORTH WHARF.












,vii


lot f.


THE ROTCH MARKET (1775)


THE ORIGINAL BUILDING WAS GUTTED
IN THE 1846 FIRE; WHAT REMAINS
TODAY IS A HIGHER STRUCTURE NO
LONGER A CUSTOMS HOUSE OR MEETING
PLACE FOR CAPTAINS FRESH FROM A
FOUR YEAR VOYAGE, BUT THE LOCATION
OF THE PACIFIC CLUB- RESERVED FOR
OLD SALTS WANTING TO SPIN YARNS
AND PLAY CHECKERS.


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THE GRINDELL GARDNER
HOUSE 1772

ADDRESS: 30 HUSSEY STREET

STRANGE COMBINATION OF GAMBREL
AND LEAN-TO ROOF FEATURES WITH
SHED AND CATSLIDE DORMER ADDI-
TIONS: A UNIQUE NANTUCKET
ECLECTIC COMBINATION.


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THE GREAT OAK


LOCATED AT THE JUNCTURE OF
NORTH LIBERTY, LILY, AND
GARDNER STREETS.


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ANDREW BUNKER HOUSE

MOVED FROM OLD SHERBURNE ca. 1761
TO THE PRESENT SITE, 41 PEARL ST.
BECOME THE ANDREW BUNKER HOUSE IN
1809 WHEN HE MARRIED- NANCY COLES-
WORTHY; POSSIBLY AT THIS TIME THE
HOUSE ACHIEVED ITS NANTUCKET
QUAKER STYLE APPEARANCE- THE 4
BAYS, THE ASYMMETRICAL ALIGNMENT
OF CHIMNEY AND DOOR,SHINGLE EXTERI
















SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC INFLUENCES ON THE

DEVELOPMENT OF NANTUCKET'S HISTORICAL

ARCHITECTURE


An essay which describes the social mores
and economic needs at the different periods
of the island's history and how these created
Nantucket Architecture; also an attempt to
explain Nantucket Architecture as a hybrid
expression of insular needs and tastes and
chosen expressions from the mainstream of
stylistic developments from Mainland America.



















submitted by: Peter F. Dessauer
Arch 890
Prof. Vernon Hodges
May 6, 1975











The First Settlers of Nantucket (1660) were ten families

of the original twenty proprietors who, being non Puritans and

separatist sympathizers,were seeking asylum from the religious

persecutions of Massachusetts Bay. The goal of the Salisbury group,

as these first colonists were named since half their number came from

that village in Massachusetts, was to found a small intimate land-

holding community. Situated at Cappamet Harbor, now called Capaum

Pond, and in the vicinity of Hummock and Reed Ponds, the initial

settlement was a scattering of separate lots (the proprietary shares)

each with a one room- one loft Gothic cottage; the surrounding

marsh and moorlands were reserved for sheep and cattle grazing.

Chandlee Foreman has an excellent map of this settlement- page 22

of Early Nantucket and its Whale Houses- which, now non existent,

stood west and southwest of the present Nantucket Town.


In 1671 the Capaum settlement was legally incorporated as

a town and given the name "Nantucket"; in that same year the island

became a part of the colony of New York; the Royal Governor Francis

Lovelace renamed the colony "Sherburne" (1673) upon the request of

Richard and John Gardner to memorialize their ancestoral home in

England. Even though the island was returned to Massachusetts in

1692 the name"Sherburne" persisted until 1795 when the town was

officially re-named "Nantucket".


page 1







page 2


During the 17/th century Nantucket ( or Sherburne) was

a semi-autonomous entity existing in its island situation making

contact with the Mainland only through small time trade for needed

manufactured goods. The soil on Nantucket is poor, and thus, the

venture could not be agricultural but limited to animal husbandry

and fishing- two endeavors which demanded the pooling of"all

available manpower and resources in an effort to make the colony

survive and succeed. Therefore, the island society was simple,

not rich; conformity to the simplest and the austere was necessary

and beanme the rule of Nantucket lifestyle. The first generations

of the colony were all struggling years; the proprietary system

was a closed one that discriminated against newcomers and probably

discouraged large numbers from following the original Salisbury

group to Nantucket. Living in an isolated community organized

on a Medieval system and with limited resources, the 17/th century

Nantucketers stubbornly maintained the old traditions of their

peasant English forefathers and changed little.

However, three developments in the early 1700's changed the

course of Nantucket History. (1) The silting up of Capaum Harbor,

the mouth finally closed by sandbars after a storm (1717), forced

relocation of the settlement at Nantucket Harbor, the present site

of the town. The proprietary families divided the "Wesco Lots among

themselves and laid out the street system that still exists today.

Nantucket's fortune now turned to the sea;:wharves-were built to

accommodate a large fishing fleet; off shore whaling became prevalent
and prompted the founding of fishing villages such as Madaket and

Siasconset. (2) Quakers were never welcome in the Massachusetts









page 3


Bay Colony; in growing numbers members of the Society of Friends

migrated to Nantucket ; their interest in commerce and mercantile

acumen greatly expanded Nantucket's trading contacts with the

Mainland; thus, through trade, monetary wealth entered the colony

subsidizing the erection of Commercial Buildings (i.e. The Rotch

Market at the bottom of Main Street) and more homes to house a

growing population. (3) Nantucket's available wood supplies from

the island forests were limited; timber for naval stores and house

construction was nearly exhausted before the turn of the century;

since the 1670's Tristam Coffin, one of the Proprietors, depended

upon shipments of timber to the island from his son Peter who owned

a sawmill and timberlands at Exeter, New Hampshire. Nantucket

became an open market for timber from the Mainland; lumber, brought

in exchange for fish and/or whale oil, often arrived at Nantucket

in pre-cut and measured pieces, ready for house construction. No

doubt this dependence on the mainland for raw materials and man-

ufactured goods formed close ties between certain Nantucket and

j*inland businesses; such contacts made Nantucket an important

part of New England commerce.


By the mid-eighteenth century Nantucket had become a town

of 4000 citizens. The commercial success threatened to change

insular attitudes; but traditions changed slowly on Nantucket;

the conservatism of the Society of Friends who were prominent

leaders of the island community discouraged ostenatious display

of material wealth in clothes, manners, and Architecture.





page 4


Nantucket does not have fine examples of the 18/th

century Neo-Palladian Architecture called Georgian. Quakerism

and the island society's insular attitudes disavowed the use of

ornament. iHouses were fundamental- barren of fancy moldings and

paint; traditions for a certain method of construction (wood-

half timber), style (lean-to), and appearance (cedar shingles

and/or clapboards) had been established; Nantucket in the 1750's

and 601'swas a collection of lean-to houses- 4 or 5 bays- rather

uniform in appearance and with no or little expression of art.

Houses with five bays, expressing symmetry, were equaled in

number by half houses (3 bays) and four bay "Quaker Houses" which

were asymmetrical; windows were not complimented by blinds but

austerely expressed by a S ape wooden frame; doorways were defined

by a wide flat board cornice, ocaissionally with transom, and

side pieces; houses with. ibrel roofs were rare. The population,

following the Quaker example, stubbornly refused to build brick

houses such:as those found in the seaports of the Mainland; the

thriftiness of the typical islander directed him to invest his

profits and hard earnings in his own industry or business as

insurance for future successes, rather than for useless and un-

practical possessions such as a Georgian brick house.


The Revolutionary War (1775-1783) had a destructive effect

on Nantucket: the island's fleet was totally destroyed or con-

fiscated; the town was looted (and thus, impoversihed) several

times by both sides- Rebels and Loyalists; the depression which

ensued depopulated the island. Recovery was slow, but by the

1790's Nantucket began its economic climb to its golden age of

the 1820's-50's. However, the calamities of the Revolution

shattered the confidence and assurance of the island society;






page 5


post-war resettlement brought in new people, ideas, and wealth,

and even new expressions in Architecture; although never completely

lost, the island's traditional conservatism compromised with the

introduction of classical art in Architecture forming a hybrid-

revival expressions watered down to the simplest practical

elements.


It was the younger generation of the later 18/th century

which broke with the insular rules of Architecutre. According

to Clay Lancaster (see page 62) Job Macy in 1790 was one of the

first to construct a house with a full second story on the back

side, dispensing with the lean-to and shed roof additions employed

by his-.forefathers. Job's father Richard Macy admonished his son

for such pretentiousness and theatened never to enter the house;

he never did. Nevertheless trend was started: the lean-to was no

longer the domestic model; new houses,whether 4 or 5 bay,were a
an
full two stories on all sais withAell addition for a kitchen at

the rear; painted claboards,and doors with transons, entablatures,

and sidelights formed attractive fascades; on Liberty Street, with

only two exceptions, the colonial lean-tos were torn off and replaced

by full second stories. Upper Pearl Street, called "India Row",best

exemplifies the quality of painted and simply decorated houses

erected at the turn of the century. In 1802 the Masonic Lodge Hall,

Nantucket's only example of Adamesque design was built, followed by

the Pacific National Bank in 1818- two story Flemish bond brick with

a front portico of Roman Ionic Columns. The postwar innovations were

due to the influx of monetary wealth in the Nantucket community;

whale oil, acquired by dozens of fleets sent to hunt the leviathan

giants in every sea of the world, made many families quite wealthy;







page 6


This wealth then transformed an island town into an inter-

national commercial city of 9000 inhabitants.


The finest Post Colonial- Federal Period houses in

Nantucket are found on Orange Street (Captains' Row), Union

Street (Shipmates' Row), Fair, Pine, Pleasant, and Upper Main

Streets. From the bottom of Main Street (at the Rotch Market)

up to the intersection with Gardner cobblestone paving was laid

and divided by granite paths for pedestrian crossings. The blocks

on Main between Fair and Gardner have a similar streetscape

and architectural flavor to Chestnut Street, Salem, Massachusetts.

This makes me speculate that there might have been a conscious

intention on the part of the Nantucketers to emulate the architecture

of McIntire's Salem; however, this Mainland model was not copied

exactly, for Nantucket's best was never as fancy as the same in

Salem; segmented, semicircular, elliptical, and triangular pediments

over doors and porticos are not to be found on Nantucket houses;

neither are quoins, semi-circular porticos, curved convex house

forms2, nor highly decorated corinthian or composite columns.

Nantucket had its own conservative rules for classical revival

features: the distyle ionic portico with heavy parapet above,

the roof lined with parapet and balustraded insets, the belvedere

and widow's walk, doors with transom (or elliptical fan light) and

sidelights. This Nantucket formula for classical decoration is

repeated throughout the city and can be subdivided into specific


1 exception: Pacific National Bank, ca. 1818, 61 Main Street

2 exception: Philip H. Folger House, ca. 1831, on 58 Main Street,
which has a double convex fascade.









page 7


categories and groups according to variation and architectural

styles:


I. Features from the Best of the Nantucket
Late Federal Houses

A. Red Brick Group:

1) Henry Coffin House (1833): 75 Main Street

Doorway with sidelights enframed by engaged Tuscan
columns and entablature
Parapet above roof cornice with balustraded insets
5 bay facade; 4 end chimneys

2) Frederick Mitchell House ((1834): 69 Main Street

5 bay facade; 4 end chimneys
recessed arched center doorway with sidelights and
leaded fan.
Parapet over roof cornice with balustraded insets
Cupola belvedere on roof

3) Jared Coffin "Moor's End" House (1829): 19 Pleasant St.

5 bay facade; 4 end chimneys
center doorway with sidelights and semicircular
blind fan with carved eagle.
parapet over roof cornice with lattice insets
cupola belvedere on roof


B. White Clapboard Group:

1) Matthew Crosby House (1828): 90 Main St.

5 bay facade; 2 ridge chimneys
center doorway with leaded sidelights, blind fan
with carved eagle.
Roof cornice lined with parapet plus balustraded
insets.

2) Thomas Macy House (1830): 99 Main Street

5 Bays; 2 ridge chimneys
center doorway with sidelights and blind fan,
carved eagle, triple light window above
parapet on roof cornice with balustraded insets





page 8


During the 1820's and 1830's many Nantucket Federal

features were combined with art from the Greek Revival Style,

forming transitional combinations which are listed below:


II.Nantucket Transitional Federal-Greek


A. Red Brick Group:

1) Charles Coffin House: (1831) 78 Main Street

5 bays; 4 end chimneys
slightly recessed doorway with sideligths
Heavy Brownstone Greek Revival Entablature and broad
pilasters around doorway
Widow's walk on Roof

2) The Starbuck Houses: (1836-38) 92,95,97

-slightly recessed doorway with sidelights
5 bays; end chimneys
Distyle Greek Ionic Portico with Heavy Parapet and
Entablature
Parapet along roof cornice with balustraded insets
cupola belverdere

3) Jared Coffin House: (1845) 29 Broad St.

5 bays; end chimneys
-slightly recessed doorway with sidelights
Distyle Ionic Portico with Parapet
Parapet along roof cornice with balustraded insets
cupola belvedere

B. White Clapboard Group:

1) John Wendell Barret House: (1820) 72 Main St.
5 bays; end chimneys
center doorway with transom ans sidelights
-portico with coupled Greek Ionic columns
-parapet with balustraded insets along roof cornice
pilastered belvedere on roof

2) Joseph Mitchell House: (1810) 100 Main St.

Federal House with later addition ca. 1840 of a
pilastered Greek Revival center doorway with sidelights.

3) Issac Macy House (1820's); 7 Pleasant St.

-center doorway with sidelights
-Distyle Greek Ionic Portico
Parapet over roof cornice with balustraded insets
5 bays, end chimneys







page 9


4) Levi Starbuck House: (1838) 14 Orange Street

Exterior: of wide flush boards and broad "vertical
indentured"3 pilasters dividing the bays
3 bay pediment side faces the street; the entrance
is on the 3 bay side facing the premises.
Heavy entablature below the roof line
Distyle Ionic Portico sheltering the entrance


The Greek Revival abounds on Nantucket with many localized

versions; the simple rules and forms of the Greek Classical

Art were readily accepted by the natives who adorned the

facades of their shingle houses with white clapboards, broad

flat pilasters- preferably with a "vertical indenture"3- and

heavy white entablatures over the doors. The great colonnaded

porticos of the Greek Revival are represented by the Methodist

Church (Ionic), the Hadwen House (1845- 96 Main Street- Ionic)

and its twin, the George W. Wright House (also known as the

Hadwen Neice House- 1845- 94 Main Street) which has corinthian

capitals. The First Baptist Church (1840- 1 Summer Street) is

similar to others built at the same time along the coast of Cape

Cod- in places such as Dennis, Sandwich, and Falmouth. After the

Great Fire of 1846 which totally destroyed the Business District,

stores and shops were rebuilt in a Commercial Greek Revival Style-

the pedimented gable end facing the street; Sherburne Hall on

Petticoat Row (Center Street) seems a close copy of Salem's

India Marine Hall. New post-fire houses had the pedimented


3 This term is my own invention for a type of recessed panelled
pilaster which Clay Lancaster gives no special name; there
should be a specification for this type of pilaster used so often
on Nantucket buildings.








page 10


three bay side face the street; the new Greek Revival door

had the distinctive feature of two tall upright panels. The

central landmark of Nantucket Town is the Atheneum, designed

by the only known Architect associated with Nantucket-

Frederick Brown Coleman- who also designed the Baptist

Church and the Hadwen Houses, no, 94 greatly resembling the

Captain Augustus Littlefield House on 76 Pelham Street in

newport, Rhode Island; it is quite possible that Coleman

received training on the Mainland and based his designs on

existing municipal and domestic buildings which he saw there.

The Atheneum's entrance is defined by a double pediment, with

two ionic columns and two pilasters in antae; today the

Atheneum is the town's public library.


The Greek Revival buildings I have described above

indicate the peak of Nantucket's historical and architectural

development. The Gold Rush of 1849, the discovery of oil in

Pennsylvania, the introduction of kerosene as a cheaper

substitute for whale oil, and the Civil War all contributed

to the end of the whaling industry and, subsequently, to the

decline of the island's once international fame. By 1870 the

island was in complete depression; depopulation followed;

those who remained depended upon fishing, small time whaling,

and the cranberry bogs for income. After 1860 there was nothing

of significance built on the island; the wealth which had brought

the latest styles and expressions in architecture to Nantucket

had disappeared and so did progress.






page 11


Ironically, it is to this depression of the latter half

of the 19/th century that we owe the preservation of the

architecture of Nantucket; there was never a prolific period

of Victorian eclecticism or 20/th century revival revivalism

to destroy and and displace the Classical and Greek Revival

Architectuee of Nantucket's golden age. Today Nantucket is a

thriving community in the summertime the tourist colonies have

maintained the houses and streetscapes, and mature flora and re-

forestration give the town a shady landscape.


Nantucket Scale and Continuity


The island society produced men of thrift and pragmatism

who designed and built their town and its fortunes with only

a minimum of help from the outside; their concern for economy

created an architecture whi6h is characterized by simplicity -

a few forms expressing their materials, a sea of cedar shingles

and wooden clapboards. Even the elegant examples on Main Street,

exceptions of the vast majority of simpler wooden houses,'are

quite reserved and conservative compared to their surviving

contemporaries in America; it is this reserve and conservatism

in elegance, the precision of proportions (but not necessarily

symmetry), and the continuity of scale which creates the union

of all the town's architecture.


Perhaps the best example of Nantucket continuity and

scale is the village of Siasconset, located on the island's

eastern coast. In the 18/th century fishermen and whalers

built small wooden hut there as overnight shelters; economy and






page 12


average stature at that time being smaller than today restricted

the size of these shelters to the minimum, or what appears to be

3/4 scale. Today Siasconset is a summer resort; the fishermen'

huts are now homes retaining their salty and weathered shingle

appearance on the exterior but renovated to snug and homey elegance

in the interior. The streets are 3/4 scale- narrow, almost like

paths" actually a pedestrian world. Trees add bushes, new to this

location which had been windswept and barren, shade each lane,

connecting yard to yard and tying each cottage to the other while,

at the same time, screening, and creating privacy.


In conclusion: The Nantucketers were living in:lan insular

situation under certain limitations; however, their dependence

upon the Mainland f6V raw materials did not diminish their sense

of independence. As islanders, the Nantucketers were observers

of America; they were in a situation to pick and choose from the

profusion of manners and tastes which the Mainland offered, taking

what they thought was necessary and discarding others, all dependent

upon their economic situation and always their frugal lifestyle which

in turn demanded a reserved interpretation of everything. The simple

shingle house, two stories and 4 or 5 bays, is the typical Nantucket

expression and is thus, the representative of Nantucket Architecture;

this in many ways is no different from the coastal types found along

Cape Cod ( Sandwich, Falmouth,Dennis) and the New England Coast-

Salem, Duxbury, Newburyport, and Portsmouth. However, the Quaker

four bay house (asymmetrical), to my knowledge, is found no where

else in the United States; possibly, it is an;island_ invention, and,

constituting 20% of the historic town's properties, it is practically

most representative of Nantucket Architecture. At present it is my



























page 13


Opinion that there is such a thing as a Nantucket Architecture-

a hybrid of the historic styles, both the humble and the elegant,

interpreted to fit the didosyncracies of the Nantucket character.

There is such a thing as Nantucket taste and preferences which

explains the repetition of architectural formulas and continuity

found on the island.






BIBLIOGRAPHY


Chamberlain, Samuel, Cape Cod in the Sun, Hastings Houase NA730
New York City, 1937. .m4
C44

----------------, Historic Salem in Four Seasons,Hastings
House, New York, 1938. F74.SI
c44

------.------------ New England Doorways, Hastings
House, Publishers, New York.

--- -------------, Open House in New England, Vermont .NA 707
Printing Company, Brattleboro, Vt., 1937. C 440

---------------, The New England Image, Hastings House,
Publishers, New York, 19-2. FS C44


Foreman, Henry Chandlee, Early Nantucket and its Whale Houses,
Hastings House, New York, 1966.
F72 .N2F7

Kimbal, Fiske, Domestic Architecture of the American Colonies
and of the Early Republic, Dover Publications, New York.


Lancaster, Clay, The Architecture of Historic Nantucket, NA 735
McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, 1972. .N213

Morrison, Hugh Sinclair, Early American Architecture,New York,
Oxford University Press, 1952.
NA707
.M87
Northend, Mary Harrod, Historic Doorways of Old Salem, NA 3010
Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1962. .N6

Robinson, Albert G., Old New England Doorways, Charles NA 3010
Scribner's sons, New York, 1919. .R6


Stackpole, Edouard A., and Dreyer, Peter H., Nantucket
in Color, Hastings House, Publishers, New York, 1973.

Tower, Elizabeth, and Halsey, R.T.H., The Homes of Our Ancestors,
Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1937.
N611
.A6H3
1937






































COMMERCIAL GREEK REVIVAL

POST 1846 (FIRE) CENTER STREET
SHOWING 7 BAY SHERBURNE HALL.

BECAUSE SO MANY SHOPS ON THIS
STREET WERE MANAGED BY WOMEN,
IT ACQUIRED THE NICKNAME
"PETICOAT ROWt".




















































COLONIAL DOORWAY

NO. 15 LIBERTY STREET

COLONIAL LEAN-TO HOUSE.
STRUCTURE AND DOORWAY EXTEN-
SIVELY RENOVATED BY A. F.
SHURROCK DURING THE 1930'S.

TRANSOM, WIDE PILASTERS,
SIMPLE ENTABLATURE.












































af


--


m-m--


GREEK REVIVAL PORTICO


NO. 28 PEARL (INDIA) STREET

GREEK REVIVAL DISTYLE DORIC
PORTICO ON A DOUBLE STOOP
WITH A HEAVY FULL ENTABLATURE
ABOVE. THE HOUSE WAS BUILT IN
THE SECOND QUARTER OF THE 19/th
CENTURY FOR DAVID BAXTER.


lkI


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Now

...............


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CI
---'


moor










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vpp-- -
----......


RESIDENTIAL GREEK REVIVAL


NO. 12 ACADEMY LANE


WHITE CLAPBOARD FRONT.
BROAD "INDENTED" END PILASTERS*
DOORS FLANKED BY BROAD "INDENTED"
PILASTERS WITH DIAGONAL CROSS
PIECES*
FULL ENTABLATURE ABOVE DOOR.


.........


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--,,
~
--~-
-



--------~- -----
----------



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--



















































GREEK REVIVAL DOORWAY

NO. 20 PEARL (INDIA) STREET

LATER ADDITION TO A TYPICAL
4 BAY QUAKER "NANTUCKET HOUSE".
THE BROAD PILASTERS WERE
FAVORED ON NANTUCKET: HERE
INDENTED BY A GREEK KEY DESIGN.







































-i .t. l --


THE HADWEN HOUSES

94 AND 96 MAIN STREET


NANTUCKET'S FINEST GREEK REVIVAL
MASTERPIECES, DESI GNED BY
FREDERICK BROWN COLEMAN, THE ONLY
KNOWN ARCHITECT ASSOCIATED WITH
NANTUCKET ARCHITECTURE.


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*:


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:OLD VESTRY" THE STEEPLE OF
I,. 1
I'll)














NANTUCKET GOTHI C
"OLD VESTRY": THE STEEPLE OF
THE CONGREGATIONALIST CHURCH.
STANDS ON BEACON HILL AND
CREATES A TOWN LANDMARK.



















































NANTUCKET STREET SCENE

JUNCTURE OF MAIN AND CENTER
STREETS FACING SOUTH. IN FRONT
IS ONE OF THE CONVEX DOUBLE BAYS
OF THE PHILIP H. FOLGER BUILDING
NOW USED FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES.
ABOVE THE ROOFLINE STANDS THE
CUPOLA OF THE UNIVERSALIST
CHURCH, A LANDMARK FOR THE
SOUTH SIDE OF TOWN.