Preservation Institute: Nantucket started Monday. As if I needed another reminder I wasn’t in Gainesville anymore with the damp, chilly weather, I got lost on my initial attempt to find Sherburne Hall, UF’s home base in downtown Nantucket. I’m used to the grid system, and with all the roads in Nantucket twisting and turning in random directions I got lost. But I made it on time.
Day 1 was spent introducing the program and going over all the lectures, guest speakers, and projects we will be having over the next seven weeks. We were given Nantucket Historical Association membership cards and set loose to visit the Whaling Museum, which otherwise would have cost us $15. The museum was impressive and does a great job presenting the industry that put Nantucket on the map in the late 1700s and early 1800s. I didn’t see everything so I’ll have to go back.
Day 2 began with a lecture by on English and early American architecture. We also received an overview of Nantucket’s architectural history before taking a walking tour of Main Street with Michael May, director of the Nantucket Preservation Trust. Main Street seems to have the biggest old homes on the island and was where those involved in the whaling industry called home. We got to tour one of those homes, the Hadwen House, which is another NHA property. The restored Greek revival, built in 1845, was in fine condition and featured pieces brought back from whaling trips in the Pacific. On the lunch break I visited the Antheneum, the town’s library. They usually charge summer residents $25 for library cards, but they gave me one for free! I must say, Nantucket has been welcoming to PI:N students so far.
Day 3 involved another morning lecture, this time about UNESCO, ICCROM, and ICOMOS and other international cultural heritage conservation — as historic preservation is called outside the U.S. — programs. UF is trying to get Nantucket listed on the World Heritage list. I don’t see it happening.
Another lecture followed in the afternoon about cultural landscapes. But the highlight of the day came with a trip into a Nantucket residence to see a chimney under repair. The homeowners, a gracious couple who were about 70, live in a well-kept shingle house with a failing chimney. If I had a guess, I would say it was built in the mid-1800s. Apparently a repair with Portland cement was doing more harm than good and it needed to be taken off and shored up with the original lime-based cement. The floorboards in the house and attic blew me away; some of them were about a foot-and-a-half long. Also, beams in the attic featured ax cut marks, another indicator that it’s probably antebellum (I’m so used to being in the South, I don’t know if they use that term up here).
This being the first day since I’ve been here that is hasn’t been cloudy and cool, I biked down to Surfside Beach in the late afternoon. This island is a lot bigger than it appears on a map — my legs and butt can attest.