In the summer of 1848, Cholera ran rampant up and down the Eastern Seaboard, forcing throngs of city dwellers to flee the mainland for the cooler (cholera-free) climate of the island. That same year, The Atlantic House in Siasconset opened, filling its wraparound porches and ocean-view rooms with these city refugees. Second on the island to the Ocean House on Broad Street, the Atlantic House had expansive views, “fine, cool bracing air, excellent sea bathing,” and hosted tourists for another quarter century as Nantucket emerged from fishing outpost to resort destination. However, when the whaling industry died in the 1860s, the hotel became vacant, changing hands several times, and was ultimately moved, stripped of its porches, and left dormant.
Thanks to a property easement placed in 1968, the Atlantic House’s newest owners have been able to restore the building to its former glory. In 2007, an American banker living in Singapore with his family purchased the old house, hiring Nantucket builder Mark Godfrey and Chris Dallmus of Design Associates to meticulously refurbish the property. “Every nail, every shingle, every pipe was documented as we worked,” says Mark Godfrey. “Once a week we would speak to the owners [living in Singapore] through Skype to report on the project’s progress.” All together, six bathrooms were renovated and updated, along with a rabbit’s warren of rooms that was removed to make way for an open kitchen and family area. “Our goal was to make it look as if it had always been there, still part of ‘Sconset’s historic street pattern,” says Chris Dallmus, stepping outside. “Any exterior additions we made were sympathetic and cohesive, not only to the original structure, but in the context of the neighborhood as well.”
Interior designer, Barbara Halstead, of Fenwick House Design also worked closely with the family abroad in helping create their unique interior. “They wanted a colorful, friendly, family-gathering place that was fresh and youthful, but also timeless and tasteful.” Achieving this balance of new and old led Halstead down entirely new paths in her design career. “The owners went on buying trips throughout Asia and emailed me photos of sumptuous silks, Ikat carpets, paintings, and ceramics,” she says. “I would give the thumbs up and then send them the measurements they needed to place the order and ship it right to Nantucket.” So it was, that in restoring this structure on the east side of the island, both builders and designer found themselves looking to the Far East for inspiration.
With its floors stenciled by Audrey Sterk, the spacious living room boasts a fireplace built with river stones that were originally brought on island as ballast for the old ‘Sconset Railroad. Complimenting this original masonry is an elegant curbstone mantel. Contemporary artwork from around the globe graces the walls, while antique furniture, repainted and reupholstered, creates a comfortable lounge space. Many windows hang free of drapes, and ironwork light fixtures hang gently in the high-ceiled entryway and dining room.
In 2011, The Atlantic House, which now goes by “Twenty-Seven Main,” was awarded the Nantucket Preservation Trust (NTP) Stewardship Award. The NPT is a local non-profit working to protect the island’s historic architecture. “Scores of old buildings are destroyed each year, which really changes the face of Nantucket,” says Michael May, NPT’s executive director. “We were thrilled with the renovation of Twenty-Seven Main and delighted to honor them with our Stewardship Award.”
Although Twenty-Seven Main will no longer serve as the hotel of its former life, its new owners plan to fill their rooms with family and friends for summers to come, ensuring that this beacon of old Nantucket sits vacant no longer.