Kitchen Tours -July 2015

by: Lindsay Pykosz

photography by: Nicole Harnishfeger

Balancing the historic integrity of a Nantucket home with the modern conveniences of a new, state-of-the-art kitchen can be challenging, but it is possible.

The Nantucket Preservation Trust, which is dedicated to preserving not just the exteriors but also the interiors of Nantucket’s historic homes, is showcasing a number of downtown houses on Thursday, July 16, exemplifying how new or updated kitchens can peacefully coexist in old-fashioned structures.

The locations chosen this year for their 11th annual tour include 11 and 12 Liberty St., 85 and 87 Main St. and the historic Methodist Church.

“It began in 2005,” Preservation Trust executive director Michael May said. “Our first tour was on Orange Street. The Nantucket Preservation Trust wanted people to better understand preservation and the evolution of historic houses. Although it is important to preserve historic fabric, houses do evolve over time, and kitchens – the heart of a house – are more likely to change than other areas. We wanted to show that it is possible to make alterations and still be sensitive to the history and historic elements.”

At 85 Main St., the home’s kitchen will be open to visitors, as well as the garden, which will be used for an educational and refreshment area. Combo tickets, which include a ticket and a boxed lunch with the option of three different sandwiches will be available at this location.

The Coffin School yard – but not the building – at 4 Winter St. will be open to provide participants with educational boards and information.

Each year, May said the organization tries to feature a different set of kitchens. He acknowledged that there are different types: some that have changed little over the years and are almost stuck in time, some that have only been partially re-done and some that have entirely new sections.

Over the years, the tour has started to focus more on the houses and neighborhoods as a whole as opposed to just the kitchen areas of the homes.

“It is hard to separate out a kitchen from a historic home, and we have found that it is critical to show the relationship of the kitchen and house to the landscape, the street and neighborhood,” May said. “They are all intrinsically linked.”

Homes in the downtown area are chosen each year in order to emphasize the importance of the historic core, May said. This year took on more of a preservation angle, with historic landmark structures and preservation stories included.

“The Methodist Church, for example, is an incredible landmark that anchors Centre Street,” May said. “We felt it was necessary to discuss its history since it is an important part of the neighborhood. It also has a great story about preservation – with the Two Centre Street Restoration group – the nonprofit associated with the church that is the building’s steward.” ///

Lindsay Pykosz is a Nantucket native and staff writer for The Inquirer and Mirror, the island’s newspaper since 1821.

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