The changing face of Nantucket town offers a reflection of the times—a distinct portrait of the culture that blossomed and the people who worked, shopped, strolled, lingered, and conducted the business of their lives in a significant era of Nantucket’s history. The signs—from shops, markets, offices, ephemeral sites, the hospital, hotels, and restaurants—provide a collective memory of the Nantucket community and offer access to people and places half forgotten or never known. They are a window into the past, and a glimpse of the way things were.
An exhibition of nearly one hundred Nantucket business signs representing an encapsulated history of life on Nantucket, from the late nineteenth up to the late twentieth century, includes some of the most recognizable and fondly remembered establishments: The old Downyflake, the North Shore Restaurant, Andy’s Diner, the Gordon Folger Hotel, Tavern on the Moors, Straight Wharf Theatre, Northeast Airlines, and numerous others. The collection was a gift from Mrs. Florence E. Clifford and her children-Debbi Deeley Culbertson, Dusty Deeley Ramos, and J. Drew Deeley.
“The nostalgia evoked by 125 years of signage, viewed together in one location, will certainly touch many who recall these great signs and the old businesses they represent,” said Niles Parker, Interim Executive Director and Robyn and John Davis Curator. “We are very grateful to Mrs. Clifford and her family for this wonderful contribution to the preservation of Nantucket history.”
Banner photo of Mack’s Smoke Shop on south side of Main Street, April 6, 1917. (SC10)