January 18th 2022

Nantucket Precedent Trip

Traveler: Camden McClelland
Destination: Nantucket, Massachusetts

Camden and his studio team visited Nantucket for a new client project. Immersing themselves in the area, they noticed how structures were built, the materials used such as cobblestone and brick, weathered cedar shingles, woodworking details of gates and railings–characteristics of the region that will inspire the future project’s design.

Part of the design process on many of our new projects involves a “precedent tour” around the project’s local region, often with our studio team and clients. Always inspirational, this trip provides the opportunity to identify historic details, local materials, and traditional ways of building unique to an area. For a recent project on Cape Cod, our studio team spent an afternoon touring Nantucket. The photos below are just a small sampling from our trip.

It began with a ferry ride from the Cape, one of our favorite ways to traverse the region. An approach from the water set the tone for our tour and is a clear reminder of the maritime heritage of the island.

Of course, no trip to the area would be complete without a lighthouse photograph. The Brant Point Lighthouse (below, left) signals entry into Nantucket’s inner harbor. Arriving on the high-speed ferry offered great views of the over-water cottages on Old North Wharf (below, right).

Capturing a quick panorama across Main Street, we took in the finer urban planning points of this iconic American street. Classic Main Street storefronts line each side of the axis which terminates on the Pacific National Bank building (c. 1818).

Next to Pacific National, we took a moment to stop at Murray’s Toggery Shop to pick up our obligatory Nantucket Reds. Our fearless leader, Kevin Clark was having trouble deciding between the vest and blazer.

Just across the street one of our team snaps this photo of the local meridian marker, set in place in 1840. This stone aligns with a southern marker placed almost 300 feet away and a line drawn between them points in the direction of true north (below, left).

This close-up of the crosswalk (below, right) identifies three local paving materials – red brick, edged by a deep blue/gray bluestone border, and multi-sized, multi-color worn cobbles flowing up and down the street.

A few blocks over, this humble shopfront catches our eye. It captures a lot of subtle “New England” details. A classic copper lantern calls attention to the entrance – a straight-forward raised panel door with charming transom with bulls-eye glazing. Simple, unassuming moments like this are a great inspiration that we take back and share with the office as subjects for our morning sketch routine (on Instagram @historicalconcepts_sketches).

One more beautifully overgrown shopfront down a short pedestrian passage catches our eye. The dark greens of the ivy are set off by gracefully aging cedar shingles and trim. A traditional masonry chimney is just visible above a classic New England wooden-profiled gutter.

This Greek Revival home proudly occupies the corner of Centre and India Streets. We loved the addition of a quirky one-story porch and railing that wrap the back corner.

A quick view down an alley revealed this small, private court with a gated entrance: another great morning sketch subject!

We loved this very of-the-place residential composition (below). The one-story shed “addition” to the two-story house has no offset in the exterior wall – everything was framed “flush” and the cornerboard stops when it meets up with the raking trim. We noticed how the upper windows engaged the main cornice and sit just forward of the exterior wall (an old, subtle, and important detail linked directly to local construction building techniques), as well as the boxed downspout, simple copper lantern, window boxes, and so much more.

On our way back to town we quickly pass this moment of a private garden between two residences, a well-designed respite of green in a sea of weathered cedar and white painted trim.

Our trip to Nantucket ends with a photo of our getaway vehicle. While we love the ferry, our return to the office required a brief and always memorable experience with one of Cape Air’s infamous fleet of Cessna 402s. Though small, they offer great views on the way out of town. Then, we’re back to the office to catalog our finds and compile a visual library of details for the newest project on the boards!