Dramatic, intricately detailed doorways, captain’s walks and white picket fences are among the iconic features of historical houses on the quaint island of Nantucket, located off the coast of Massachusetts. Though today it’s a quiet village, populated mostly by tourists and part-timers with summer vacation homes, it was once a bustling community. Nearly four hundred years after it was settled, Nantucket is home to some of the finest surviving examples of 18th and 19th-century New England architecture, with decidedly sea-influenced flavor.
Volume III, Issue VI of the White Pine Architectural Monographs details these homes, providing a beautiful array of historic photographs of the island’s standout architecture. Written in 1917, this account of early Nantucket dwellings reveals the strong Greek influences seen in majestic white columns as well as seaport practicalities, like the rooftop captain’s walks giving residents a view of the water.
“There is a certain rule-of-thumb following of Greek precedent, influenced by hands and hearts which have builded many ships; a certain tightness, of ship-shape-ness: newel posts rails etc., suggest the crude but strong and rugged work of the ship’s carpenter. They look as if they had weathered many a salty storm and stress, yet inexpensive – there is no ostentatious display.”
“As Quakerism declined, and fortunes began to be made rapidly in whalebone and oil, the wealthy ‘Sea Captains’ built more imposing mansions, such as the two porticoed houses on Main Street at the corner of Pleasant Street.”
Read more about these structures at the White Pine Architectural Monograph Library.