Virtual NHA

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During these unprecedented times, the Nantucket Historical Association is sharing digital resources weekly to enrich the lives of our members and friends at home through video lectures, kids activity kits, our transcription program, history articles and more! All the information in our newsletters is being gleaned from the resources presented below. We hope you’ll dive in, enjoy, and give your mind a rest from thinking about today’s challenges.

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Happy fourth of July weekend! We hope everyone enjoys the holiday safely.

▪️The Whaling Museum is open daily (10am-5pm).

▪️Hadwen House is open daily (11am-4pm)

▪️Historic Sites (Old Mill, Old Gaol, Oldest House, and Greater Light are open Wed-Sat (11am-4pm) and the Quaker Meeting House is open Mon-Fri (10am-4pm).

Historic Sites are FREE for all visitors! We hope to see you this weekend.

Photo: Old North Wharf,1976. This scan is a gift of Steven Turrentine, SC528.
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Nantucket built its first jail in 1696 on Vestal Street. In 1805 taxpayers decided to spend $2,090 (roughly the cost of building a whaleship at the time) to build a new, sturdier penal facility also on Vestal Street. Opened in 1805 and dubbed the “New Gaol,” the wooden structure represents colonial architecture with exceptional reinforcements.

The solidly-built jail forced prisoners to come up with creative escape plans. Archival material held at the NHA Research Library contains many accounts of successful and unsuccessful prison breaks, including one of a 15-year-old boy who crawled out the chimney flue, and of a prisoner who had a key delivered to his second-floor window by a woman using a block-and-tackle pulley system constructed for the purpose.

1933 saw the last prisoner housed in what is now known as the “Old Gaol.” The town closed the property and deeded it to the NHA in 1946.

The Old Gaol and Greater Light are both opening for the season tomorrow (July 1) and will be open Wed-Sat, 11am-4pm. FREE for all visitors!

Photo: The Old Gaol, circa 1950s. Gift of Helen Didriksen, PC-old Gaol-11.
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Visit the Oldest House and Kitchen Garden- FREE to all visitors!

The kitchen garden, located behind the house, is a reconstruction of a circa-1700 herb and vegetable garden and is maintained without the use of modern fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.

Plants are grown in a raised-bed system typical of the time and include common vegetable staples such as carrots, onions, cabbages, and parsnips, as well as approximately thirty varieties of herbs grown for culinary, medicinal, or household use.

Maintained by NHA Grounds and Landscape Manager, Kathrina Marques.

Now open Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-4pm at 16 Sunset Hill.
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People of the Cape Verde archipelago and their descendants have been part of the story of Nantucket since the early nineteenth century.

Our new exhibition, Cape Verde in Our Soul (opening next week at the Whaling Museum) presents the experiences of members of the Nantucket Cape Verdean community and their reminiscences about family, heritage, and island life. Expanding on the 2021 display Shoulders Upon Which We Stand, this year’s presentation will feature historic photos, mementos, and a mini-theater presenting short films based on recently conducted oral histories.

Special thanks to those who shared their stories: Kenneth DeLuze, Dominic Duarte, Kezia Duarte, Mary Fernandes, Anthony “Rocky” Fox, Viola Cabral Howard, Leslie Gomes Preston, Edmund “Rookie” Ramos, Pauline Cabral Singleton, Theran Singleton, and Claudia Stanley.

Link in our story to explore our new oral histories!

Photo: James L. Stanfield, National Geographic, June 1970
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Schools out for summer and you know what that means, the island is bustling with visitors, very much like the arrivals at the Steamship circa 1920s.

We hope to see you visiting the Whaling Museum, Hadwen House, and our Historic Sites (Old Mill and the Oldest House), which are all open this weekend!

Photo: SC628-10, Scans donated by Mary Williams.
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Thanks to our wonderful volunteers, the log of the ship Monticello’s 1853-1857 voyage has been transcribed! Check out the transcription to follow its search for whales from Nantucket to the South Pacific and view the digital copy to enjoy the numerous illustrations like this drawing of a whale hunt – link in story to follow along!

To join our volunteer transcription project, please reach out to Ashley Miller, Assistant Archivist, at amiller@nha.org with any questions.

Log 144, Log of the ship Monticello, in the Ships' Logs Collection, Nantucket Historical Association. Gift of the Nantucket Historical Trust.
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Charlotte Puffer Baxter (1853-1927) was the daughter of Captain David and Mary J. Baxter. Educated in island schools and at Vassar College, she is best remembered on Nantucket for “A Legend of Wauwinet,” a romantic poem she wrote for the Nantucket Shakespeare Club in 1876.

She married Henry Pease Starbuck in 1883, and they raised two sons. By 1900, they had moved to Santa Barbara, California, where she was living at the time of her death in 1927.

The NHA holds a dozen of portraits of islanders with their pets, mostly images of children from affluent families with their dogs. Here, Charlotte Baxter cradles her favorite cat. Her up-to-date dress and hairstyle, the velvet pillow, and even the relatively large size of the oval canvas suggest her family’s life of material comfort.

See this painting on display in our featured exhibition, Island People: Portraits and Stories from Nantucket, now on display at the Whaling Museum.

Painting by an unidentified artist. Gift of Charlotte French, 2013.22.1.
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Today we highlight a painting from our collection, Summer Street (1930-1940) by Richard Hayley Lever (1876-1958).

Lever was a highly regarded Australian-born painter who influenced the development of modernism in American painting. Born in Adelaide, South Australia, he studied in London and Paris before settling in the Cornish town of St. Ives, where he completed his series of seascapes in a distinctive style strongly influenced by the works of Vincent Van Gogh.

Lever moved to New York in 1911, painting striking post-impressionistic street scenes, and quickly establishing himself as an artist and teacher at the Art Students League, where he came into association with Ernest Lawson and the modernists of the Ashcan School. By 1915, Lever had acquired a summer home in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He may have been drawn to visit Nantucket around this time (not recorded in the local newspapers), but by 1928, he was firmly established on island, and received notice in the Inquirer and Mirror with the headline: “Noted Marine Painter Here.”

Lever was one of the most significant modern artists to visit and work on Nantucket, producing some of his finest work with the island as his subject. Lever’s Nantucket work focuses largely on the waterfront, with panoramic views of town and harbor and detailed wharf scenes predominant, making this highly finished depiction of Summer Street and the rising spire of Frederick Brown Coleman’s First Baptist Church particularly interesting.

This painting was a gift of the Friends of the Nantucket Historical Association, 1996.5.1.
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The Old Mill officially opens to visitors TODAY (Wednesday, June 15). Hours will be Wednesday through Saturday, 11am-4pm through September 3.

And when the wind allows we will notify visitors when the Old Mill is running.

The Oldest House also opens for the season today. Be sure to stop into these iconic Nantucket Historic Properties to explore more!

Admission is FREE for all visitors 🎟
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The Oldest House also officially opens to visitors tomorrow (Wednesday, June 15). Hours will be Wednesday through Saturday, 11 am-4 pm through September 3 and admission is FREE for all!

Also known as the Jethro Coffin House, it was built in 1686 and is believed to be the oldest residence on Nantucket still on its original site. Built as a wedding gift for Jethro Coffin (1663–1727) and Mary Gardner (1670–1767), the house represents the unity of two of the island’s oldest families.

Photographic Print Collection, P22425, photo was taken circa 1970.
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Postcard of the Old Mill, with two women on bicycles, dated August 9, 1958.

The Old Mill officially opens to visitors this Wednesday, June 15. Hours will be Wednesday through Saturday, 11am-4pm through September 3 and admission is FREE for all!

Built in 1746 by Nathan Wilbur, a Nantucket sailor who had spent time in Holland. Believed to be the oldest American windmill in continuous operation, the Old Mill was desig­nated an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark in 1992.

Photographic Print Collection, P16906.
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The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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