Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 3: Nantucket, MA

Monday, September 22, 2008: Day on Nantucket, cruise to Martha's Vineyard

We pulled into Nantucket Harbor overnight, and the first misty view this morning was that of the Brandt Point Lighthouse surrounded by weathered shingled houses characteristic of Nantucket.

The American Spirit was anchored in deep water well offshore, so it was necessary to use a 28-person tender to transport passengers to the dock. The first departure from ship to shore was about 8:30 a.m.; the last return was at 3:30 p.m. In essence, we had a maximum of 6 hours to sightsee Nantucket. American Cruise Lines arranged a 2-hour bus tour that covered Nantucket and the outlying villages of Siasconset and Sankaty Head. We chose to forego the tour, and instead, walked to the many attractions in Nantucket proper.

Our first stop was the Nantucket Whaling Museum-Peter Foulger Gallery, 13-15 Broad Street. The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) offered a combined pass that included admission to the Nantucket Whaling Museum, and several historical sites that were open seasonally.

The Oldest House and Historic Garden , located on rural Sunset Hill, was built in 1686, and is the oldest building on Nantucket Island.

Note the size of the fireplace in the interior shot of the Oldest House.

In 2006, the NHA restored the Historical Garden as an early 1700s herb and vegetable garden, and added an orchard of “antique” apple varieties.

We headed back to town, through beautiful tree lined neighborhoods to Main Street, home to a wonderful collection of architecturally significant residences.

The Hadwen House, 96 Main Street, is a Greek Revival mansion built in 1845 by William Hadwen, a whaling merchant and silver retailer.

Note the elaborate table setting in the West Parlor of the Hadwen House.

Directly across from the Hadwen House at 93-97 Main Street were three virtually identical brick mansions, built in 1839 by whaling merchant Joseph Starbuck. Known colloquially as The Three Bricks, Joseph Starbuck built these houses for his three sons. (Notes from Brian Pfeiffer’s article, The East Brick, Nantucket, Antiques & Fine Art [Journal], August/September, 2006).

We continued along Main Street amongst more Victorians to the commercial district.

Italianate Queen Anne Victorian on Main Street.

We returned to the Whaling Museum to see a documentary on the sperm whale that beached in 1998.
Our stroll then took us to the wharf area where we window-shopped among the gift shops and art galleries, before heading back to the dock.

Late that afternoon, the American Spirit pulled anchor and began the overnight cruise to Martha's Vineyard. Sandy Balla spoke to us about the sights we would have the opportunity to see tomorrow. Another exciting day awaited us!

Postscript: Since our visit to Nantucket was on a Monday, an important group of attractions was closed to the public. This was the assemblage of museums, including the original observatory, operated by the Maria Mitchell Association. Maria (pronounced Mariah) Mitchell (1818-1889) was the first astronomer to discover a comet by use of a telescope. This occurred on Nantucket in 1847. She was the first woman to be named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. See article for more biographical information.

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