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Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Historic Nantucket

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If you live on Nantucket, you can’t avoid its history, and “Moby Dick” is the way most of us get into Nantucket’s history” - N. Philbrick.


Shores of Nantucket Island


We traveled for a few days to the pristine shores of Nantucket Island for a family gathering. Always on our slow travels, here and abroad, we have a strong curiosity to explore the local history, public libraries, bookshops, cafes, pastry shops, and gardens. Our focus is on architecture, history and art.


Nantucket's Atheneum

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In past visits we always admired this present day Greek Revival building, which was established in 1834. In 1841, Frederick Douglas gave his first major speech before a mixed-race audience. In 1848 Nantucket suffered a tragedy still known as the Great Fire. The fire swept through the downtown, destroying businesses, homes, and the original Nantucket Atheneum. In 2000’s, the Nantucket Atheneum began an extensive renovation that rescued the island’s public library from shabby elegance, and restored the neoclassical building which was inspired by Classical Greek Architecture. During renovation, a valuable historical collection of over five hundred nineteenth-century pamphlets were found in the space beneath the floorboards. Additionally, in remarkable demonstrations of generosity, books, newspapers, and printed matter of all kinds continue to pour into the Atheneum. At present, the library holds over 1.6 million items including books, magazines and non-print resources.  



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There are two well stocked bookshops in the historic center.

Nantucket Bookworks has been around since 1972. In addition to a full section of books, you can also find a selection of gifts, heritage toys and art supplies. The other is Mitchell’s Book Corner which is a full-service, independent bookstore with an extensive selection of books about Nantucket’s whaling and the island’s genealogy. Like coffee, purchase and go, and find the perfect location to read and think.

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A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” - Seinfeld)

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We continued our coffee rubric while in Nantucket. With only a few days here, cafe hopping has been limited. So far, I can recommend these two cafes: the Corner Table and Stoke ACK Coffee. Both are located in the historic center. The rubric is based on five criteria: coffee, ambience, location, service, cost. The Corner Table scores 5 for coffee, 3 for ambience (small, limited seating), 5 service, and 5 cost. The second, Stoke ACK, is primarily for take out. The coffee rated a 3+, 5 location, 4’s for service and cost. Once again, these cafe perceptions are purely from our amateur judgements and for our shared enjoyment.

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I like coffee because it gives me the illusion that I might be awake.” - J. Black




Church architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.”  - F. Gehry


The Quaker (Friends) Meeting House

The meeting house was erected in 1838 and originally served as a Friends School for the Wilburite Sect. This building is the last Quaker Meeting House in Nantucket.


Unitarian Universalist Meeting House

Nantucket Unitarian Universalist congregation welcomes all faiths, identities, orientations, abilities, nationalities, ethnicities, and ages. Their history dates back to the sixteenth century.

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First Congregational Church 

The Gothic Revival details are in full view at this church, which has been serving Nantucket’s island community since the early 1700’s. The tower climb is manageable because of the broken sections, which makes for an easy climb that offers a 360-degree view of the island and ocean.

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United Methodist Church 

Dated 1823 is another Greek Revival style of architecture, painted white with the original hip roof from the 1820’s.


St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

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A stunning example of Romanesque architecture in contrast to the typical grey shingled houses. Highlights were the Tiffany windows at the front and rear of the church, and the “Water of Life” Tiffany window in the nave.

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Siasconset Union Chapel

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Built in 1883 of Gothic Revival style as a place of worship for both Protestant and Roman Catholic services.


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Last modified on Wednesday, 31 August 2022

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