An Architectural Legacy Threatened
’Sconset is blessed with an extraordinary collection of antique homes and buildings. Many have survived intact due to our remote location, as well as a preservation aesthetic that has developed and attracted summer residents over the last one hundred years. However, due to a shift in current tastes favoring more living space, modern conveniences, and subdivisions of land, great pressure is now being exerted on our 17th and 18th century cottages and our 19th century Victorian and shingle style summer homes and surrounding spaces. During some renovations, historic fabric has been lost forever.
You can help one house at a time
The ’Sconset Trust has received three gifts of Preservation Restrictions: on Atlantic House; on Hedged About, owned by Walter Beinecke, an important, early preservationist on Nantucket; and on the Siasconset Union Chapel. As a result, certain elements of these properties will be protected forever for the enjoyment of future generations.
Saving Atlantic House
In 1848, Atlantic House opened on Main Street in Siasconset as Nantucket’s second fine hotel. (The first was the Ocean House on Broad Street in town.) Billed as having a fine situation “overlooking the level Atlantic,” it was an early attraction for Siasconset’s emerging tourist trade. With the island-wide depression of the 1860s, it would take another two decades for tourism fully to blossom on island, but the Atlantic House led the way, as proclaimed in its advertising:
“As a place of summer resort, no spot in the United States offers greater attractions than Siasconset. The fine, cool, bracing air, and the excellent water and sea-bathing, are admirably adapted to refresh and invigorate both mind and body. . . . Persons leaving the cities to escape from the cholera, cannot possibly find a safer retreat than Siasconset.”
In 1924, the hotel closed, and the building was reduced in size, turned, and moved to its current location. In July 2001, desiring to prevent any further changes, the owners donated an easement to the ’Sconset Trust to preserve the exterior, prevent subdivision, and limit future uses, thus ensuring the building’s contribution to the look and feel of Main Street would endure.
New Village Zoning for ‘Sconset – April 2012
Read about the ‘Sconset Trust’s leadership in working with the Town of Nantucket to preserve the core village of ‘Sconset through the implementation of a zoning change:
Voters at the 2012 Annual Town Meeting approved Article 52, a zoning change for a portion of the Siasconset Residential Old Historic (SROH) district to Village Neighborhood (VN). This change is consistent with the Master Plan recommendation of creating village centers in appropriate locations, it will bring existing commercial uses into conformity in the well-established village center of ’Sconset, and will insure the continuation of the village center should any of the existing businesses discontinue, which would not have been allowed in the SROH. Commercial uses permitted in the VN district are limited, and are the type of businesses that will complement surrounding residential properties.
The Planning Office appreciates the proactive planning efforts in the village of ’Sconset and the recent adoption of the village center zoning is an important milestone for the future, achieving a goal dating from the 1970s. Siasconset continues to lead the way in thoughtful community protection evidenced by their early support of zoning in the 1960s to the recent preservation of the Coffin land and we thank the efforts of the ’Sconset Trust and Bob Felch for championing community protection.
—Andrew Vorce and Leslie Woodson Snell of the Nantucket Planning Board
‘Sconset Area Plan – February 2007
Between 2004 and 2007, the citizens of ’Sconset created a ’Sconset Area Plan in response to a request of the Town of Nantucket Planning Department to provide a ’Sconset planning document for the Town Master Plan. The Siasconset Civic Association and the ’Sconset Trust played a leadership role in the process.