Nantucket Preservation Trust
55 Main St
Nantucket, MA 02554
Who We Are
The Nantucket Preservation Trust is a nonprofit, membership-based organization with a focus on the preservation of the island’s historic architecture. We provide programs that explore the architecture and history of the island’s buildings, and strive to increase awareness of the importance and fragility of these resources. Of special concern are Nantucket’s historic interiors that are not protected by local government regulations and are often threatened by insensitive “gut rehabs.”
Our Focus Is Architectural Heritage
Other island non-profit organizations focus on the island’s history, its flora and fauna and its open spaces, but there is no other organization whose primary concern is preservation of Nantucket’s unique historic resources. Paradoxically for a place so steeped in history, no other organization on island has such a charge, and at present no other charge is so important.
Working To Prevent Architectural Destruction
Although preserving the texture and appearance of our historic buildings is central to Nantucket’s economic and social appeal, the affluence of the past decade has posed new threats to the very basis of that appeal. The issue of “gut rehab” threatens historic homes. Each year scores of historic buildings are altered without considering the irreplaceable architectural qualities that led to the Nantucket’s designation as a National Historic Landmark.
Nantucket Preservation Overview
Nantucket, located approximately 30 miles south of the coast of Cape Cod, has two exceptionally well preserved village centers (Nantucket Town and Siasconset) which retain nationally important examples of architecture from the Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian periods. In addition the island has a large concentration of buildings from the early 20th century when architectural preservation and architectural revivals based upon Nantucket’s past dominated new construction.
The survival of Nantucket’s historic buildings is due in large part to factors associated with the economic decline of the whaling industry in the mid 1800s. The island was largely forgotten for half a century and, as a result, its fine architecture survived through neglect. By the late 19th century, efforts to preserve the island’s historic resources were initiated—echoing the nation’s early preservation movement. The first preservation work on island included the saving of the Old Mill in 1894 and voluntary were steps adopted to ward off insensitive changes to the historic buildings. These actions also helped create an atmosphere where new construction reflected the island’s appreciation of its historic architecture.
In 1955, Nantucket was one of the first communities in the nation to establish local historic districts and to adopt regulations to control exterior changes.
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