A Tale of Two Styles: Traditional and Contemporary on Nantucket
A Tale of Two Styles
There’s a dichotomy happening in Nantucket real estate at the moment, a classic battle of Old School vs. New. In one corner are the island’s architectural purists—those committed to the whaling-era Greek Revival homes and historic Quaker cottages that comprise the core of Nantucket’s charming downtown and form the basis of its picturesque mise-en-scène. In the other are the boundary pushers; those who argue the island’s natural beauty—the kind that lies a good ways from bustling Main Street—is best complemented by the minimally invasive design of contemporary architecture.
So which camp stakes a more convincing claim? We’re holding up a prime piece of real estate on each end of the style spectrum to decide if classicism or contemporary rules.
Historic Charm in Downtown
Occupying a tony spot just a quick stroll from downtown is one of the island’s most storied properties: 54 Orange Street. The classic Greek Revival-style home is a marker of Nantucket’s heyday; it was once owned by the island’s most prosperous whaling captain. It’s large, with six bedrooms and five baths, and as sturdy as they come. “Any major home of the time was built by the best shipbuilders in the area, so it’s one of the sturdiest houses you’ll ever walk into. The quality of the craftsmanship is unbelievable.” says listing agent Cam Gammill, of Fisher Real Estate. While the quality of the construction can still be seen today, even more incredible is the level of detail that craftsmen of that era were able to execute. The home is magnificent on every level.”
So much so that a handful of its features can still be traced back to its 1835 construction. The mantels (brought back from a whaling voyage), front columns, wide-plank flooring, and the woodwork on the stairs are all original to the property. Character has been painstakingly preserved throughout the rest of the home, too. A half-a-dozen marble fireplaces, grandly scaled sitting and dining rooms, and three floors of living space are a tribute to the prestige the home was built upon.
The property’s greatest draw, however, isn’t a feature that can be found on a real estate listing. “Nantucket in general evokes an emotion—whether it’s that moment you get off the boat, or when you walk up Main Street—there’s a true emotional connection,” says Gammill. When you can walk into a historic home, you can understand the people before you and their connection to Nantucket, too.”
Contemporary Style (and Sensibility)
At the opposite end of the island (and the style spectrum) sits 10 Eat Fire Spring Road, an open, sprawling contemporary with harbor views. The seven-bedroom estate, built in 2017, overflows with modern conveniences. Central air, temperature-controlled wine storage, an induction cooktop, an irrigation system, and app-controlled smart-home technology make up the short list, but it’s also a culmination of the best that cutting-edge technology has to offer. It’s solar powered, and heated and cooled geothermally, which combine to make it a net-zero home.
In fact, the home is so energy efficient that it actually creates energy to give back to the island, something listing agent Brian Sullivan of Fisher Real Estate says he’s only seen a handful of times in his twenty-year career on Nantucket. “The home offers luxury, and amenities, and quality construction, but it’s also this eco-friendly space that’s not creating any sort of footprint on the environment around it,” Sullivan says. “The fireplaces burn on ethanol made from corn, and the pool and house are heated via the sun. You’re only connected to the power grid in case of emergencies.”
A far cry from segmented floor plans of yesteryear, the home’s airy, open-concept design maximizes light, with high ceilings, plenty of windows, and a white-washed, reflective color palette. But while it’s decidedly modern, the property is not without its nods to the past. “One of the more interesting design features of the home is that it has this beautiful trim work which is actually made from beams that were salvaged from an old church in Boston,” says Sullivan. “So it’s a reclaimed resource that is environmentally sensitive, but at the same time it gives the property character.”
So is it safe to say they don’t make ’em like they use to? That’s for you to decide.
Both properties are represented by Fisher Real Estate on Nantucket
54 Orange Street
10 Eat Fire Spring Road
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