• by Sarah Teach •
Every summer, the Nantucket Garden Club crafts a tour of some of the island’s most spectacular houses and gardens. Throughout the tour’s previous 58 years, visitors have ambled up Baxter Road and moseyed down Orange Street. “This year, we chose Main Street,” says House Tour Co-Chair Jody Hilton, “because it encapsulates all of Nantucket’s history. We’ve given the tour at beautiful, brand new homes with New York designers before, but this time around, we decided to focus on older houses where the integrity of the house has really been respected. Each house has its own story.” House Tour Communications Chair Merrielou Symes notes, “Our Main Street here on Nantucket is one of America’s great streets.”
This year’s House Tour offers a chance to explore 8 magnificent homes and breathtaking gardens. A tour stop especially dear to Garden Club members is the Nantucket Historical Assn’s Hadwen House at 96 Main. For years, the club has meticulously maintained the garden at this 19th c. Greek Revival (a remarkable representation of Nantucket’s whaling era prosperity). This year, the club’s efforts paid off when the garden was officially inducted into the Smithsonian Institution.
The Nantucket Garden Club exists to provide the community with education about gardening, and to support local organizations that are dedicated to the preservation of the island’s environment. Over the years, the club has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to local causes. Perhaps most impressive is the Garden Club’s dedication to the island’s youth. Each year, the group offers scholarships to four Nantucket high schoolers who plan to earn degrees in environmental fields. This year, the scholarship has doubled to $5,000 per student. “Our hope,” says Symes, “is that these students will someday come back to Nantucket and use the skills they’ve learned to preserve the island.”
The Nantucket Garden Club’s 59th Annual House Tour will take place on Wed., August 7, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., rain or shine. Participants may visit the houses in any order, and enjoy complimentary tea and homemade cookies in the Hadwen House garden. Tickets are $50 (cash or check) and include Nantucket Preservation Trust’s book, A Walk Down Main Street, which details Main Street’s 30 houses and their histories. Tickets are available in advance at Bartlett’s Farm, G.S. Hill Gallery, and Sconset Rotary, or on the day of the tour at any of the house locations.