26 Apr 2011

Nantucket Historic Properties


Nantucket’s Oldest House – 1686

Cliché: An oldie, but a goodie. Definition: 1. Something from the past that makes you feel good.

I have a confession to make.  I’m one of those spoiled baby boomers who LOVES new stuff.  A new sweater or a new pair of shoes makes me a happy girl.  When it comes to real estate, just reading about all the amenities in the newer homes makes my heart go pitter-patter.  The granite and stainless steel, the plasma televisions and Bose sound systems…oh my.  Throw in some Italian Marble and it’s all over – I’m giddy!

So, my first few months in the real estate world on this historic little island have been eye opening to say the least. I’ve had a home here for 18 years, so of course I was fully aware of the heritage and history that make the island so unique.   But, until now, I’ve never fully appreciated the charm of the “antique” world or the idea of owning or renting an older home. I’m getting over myself quickly.

When I enter these antique homes on my rental visits I find myself having an emotional response.  Whether it’s a home built in the 1700’s or one built in the 1930’s, my reaction is the same – I want to know the story.   Who are the people who lived here, loved here, struggled her, celebrated here….maybe suffered here?  How many generations have filled the rooms with life and laughter?  Some of the furnishings are equally intriguing:  what letters or documents were penned at the little antique desk?  How many babies were sung to sleep in the little rocker near the fireplace?  I’m mesmerized by the parlors and gathering rooms and hidden back stairways.

The best lesson I’m learning about Nantucket historic properties is you can outfit them with enough modern conveniences to appease us 21st century humans.  Many of the homes have been thoughtfully and tastefully restored to their original elegance.  Most come complete with wireless internet, lovely linens and a fresh updated kitchen with all the amenities to make cooking fun and easy.  But none of these modern additions eclipses their fabulous historic personalities.

It occurred to me recently what an amazing experience it would be for an extended family to rent one of these antique homes and treat their children or grandchildren to an authentic historical experience.  You could go “all out” and make it an electronics free trip; spend the week with books and board games, outdoor nature walks and kick the can.  No cell phones or computers – imagine!  Meals could be eaten by candlelight and summer evenings spent gathered on the lawn or porch exchanging family stories.  Or, you could simply meld the history of the home with our present day gadgets and gizmos and have great conversations about how people survived without modern day luxuries.

Nantucket is teaching me that new is good and old is good and when you combine all of the styles and designs, history and creativity that goes into each home, the island becomes a tapestry that shines as a masterful work of art.  Thank you Nantucket for broadening my horizons and teaching me to embrace the…

“oldies but goodies.”

Shellie Dunlap

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