A Sconset Stroll – Nantucket Garden Club House Tour

by Sharon Lorenzo

On August 8th the Nantucket Garden Club will host its 58th Annual House Tour in Sconset with a lovely stroll along Baxter Road to visit six homes and one nationally recognized prize garden at 10 Sankaty Road. Tickets for this tour may be purchased in advance at the GS Hill Gallery on Straight Wharf, the English Trunk Show gallery on Washington Street, and on Main Street in Nantucket from August 3-7. The price per ticket is $50.00. There will be shuttle buses leaving from the bus depot on Washington Street on the day of the tour from 10:30-2:30 . Jitneys will also transport visitors up and down the lane on Baxter Avenue in Sconset.  Tickets may be purchased on the day of the tour at each house  location in Sconset. Tea and cookies will be served in the garden at 10 Sankaty Road.

A Historical Introduction to Sconset

The unincorporated village of Siasconset was named officially in 1892 based on a Wampanoag Indian term meaning “the  place of the great bone.” Cottages first began appearing on the north bluff in the early 1880’s, and the rail line from the main Nantucket pier extended to Sconset in 1884. William J. Flagg laid out a subdivision for eight cottages along the north bluff and called it Aurora Heights.

Early investors were Robert Coffin from the island and U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, John Spooner.  In 1885 another 87 lots were laid out in an area known as Sankaty Heights.  The lighthouse had been built in 1850 and named for another Wampanoag word meaning “high land and cool hill.” The 100 foot bluffs were used as a look-out spot for whalers,  and numerous shipwrecks on the shoals prompted the U.S. Congress to allocate funds for the lighthouse construction. It was fired with kerosene lanterns by retired ship captains until it was converted to electricity in 1933.

In 2005, the Sconset Trust raised funds to move the lighthouse to safer ground and with gifts from many entities and individuals including the Nantucket Garden Club, the lighthouse is secure next to the fifth hole of the Sankaty Head Golf Course, 250 feet from the bluff’s edge. The houses on this tour grace both sides of Baxter Avenue which is a mile long boulevard from town to the lighthouse itself. Many architectural styles and a variety of gardens will delight each visitor to this lovely part of the  island.

10 Sankaty Road: The  Garden of Macdonald and Charlotte Mathey- Hedged About.

This part of Sconset was first mentioned by J. Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur in 1772.   By the summer of 1880, what we know as Sconset was a thriving summer development with lots selling for $500 each after the devastating fire on Main Street in the town of Nantucket in 1846. One early purchaser was Robert Coffin whose heirs sold the land of 10 Sankaty Road in 1920 to the Jefferson brothers  from New York City. Sconset summer theater was their attraction to the island, and they then sold the property in 1934 to the Beinecke family who had been their summer tenants.

With the acquisition of two adjacent lots, the gardens have expanded to include magnificent collections of summer flowers and scrubs including the Nantucket varieties of phlox, hydrangea, petunia, and holly hocks.  As the Beinecke family moving into the historic preservation of Nantucket over the years,  the Matheys from New York City were able to acquire the home in 1976 and add the lovely hedges,  gardens, fountain, gazebo and guest house, known as  No Doubt. Lucinda Young has also added her loving touches to the garden design now protected by the Sconset Trust.

20 Baxter Road: Seacroft – Residence  of Barry and  Susanne Cooper

Seacroft is the summer home of the Coopers who hale from Toronto, Canada and Wellington, Florida. Susanne explained that the name Seacroft comes from a long tradition of naming homes in her family from Nova Scotia. It is based on the root word, croft, which is an old Scottish term for a shelter for  shepherds while grazing their sheep.

The Cooper residence on Baxter Road has two structures, the first of which was built  in 1904 by the Thompson family. Their main dwelling was built in 1985 by Gwynne Thorsen.  With brilliant gardens by Marty McGowan, the two structures embrace the Sconset landscape with a wrap around porch to capture the view of the sea.  When she is not riding her own horses, Mrs. Cooper is busy in her garden.

Their lovely family home is adorned with a combination of island purchases and family heirlooms. Some of those treasures include the magnificent sugar sled in the living room which was used in Canada to harvest  maple syrup. A collection of summer paintings by Sergio Roffo  capture the quiet beauty of  places like Madaket Harbor or  the Madequecham Valley.  A series of half hull sailboats compliment a collection of yachting pictures which Susanne and Barry has patiently gathered throughout the years. Their home is a restful delight for all.

33 Baxter Road:Whimsy- ” Old Treasures- Old Things- Old Times- Old Memories”

Thus reads the  stitchery in the kitchen of the Broll House on 33 Baxter Road in Sconset which was lovingly reorganized by Art and Nancy Broll with the assistance of architect Lyman Perry , decorator Trudy Dujardin and Sconset Gardner, Marty McGowan. According to Lyman, this project was the making of a silk purse from a sow’s ear. The results are a quaint summer cottage by the sea filled with family heirlooms, good sight lines, great taste and a splendid garden with a view from the bluff across the  Atlantic Ocean.

As a successful executive with Pepsi bottling in the Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey region, Art Broll and his wife  Nancy enjoyed this home until his  passing which she now shares with her children and grandchildren.  A green parlor greets all guests with a circular tour from the wide porches to the dining room, family room, kitchen and upper floor with four bedrooms.  Stenciling on the walls by Mary Emory adds the old feeling of the turn of the century Nantucket life style. A marvelous painting collection of works by Paul Longnecker, Ilya Kagan, John Austin, Michael Keane and others shows the depth of their commitment to the Nantucket arts community. Her garden is a rich bevy of summer annuals and perennials mixed for radiant color.    Mrs. Broll was very gracious to share her home with us for this house tour.

35 Baxter Road:Triple Play- Residence of  Jenny and Michael Price

The Price family from Connecticut loves their summer surroundings on Baxter Road  where Mom and Dad can enjoy the golf and tennis and the three kids- their triple play, can  play in the lovely yard by the seaside.  A gracious and livable family home, the Prices purchased same in 2004 and redid the kitchen and garage with the help of architects, Botticelli and Pohl and O’Connor Custom Builders.  Decorated for casual family living by Donna Elle Designs, the Prices converted an old garage into a wonderful family-tv room.

What is such fun in a home like this is to look at all the details: the compass rose on the entry floor, the whaling mural of boat and crew from the good ship Mary, to the delicious collection of sailors valentines, old and new !   Paintings by the Sybil Goldsmith, Sergio Roffo and Thomas Meek Jr. were either gifts or purchases by both Prices. The best of Nantucket sea life is shown in the dining room carpet by Stark in vivid summer colors. The lucky visitor to the Price home will see what fun it is to live and play in such a seaside paradise as the Sconset community on the bluff of Baxter Road.

41 Baxter Road: Just Bluffing-Residence of  Daisy and Paul Soros

Daisy and Paul Soros built their home in 1979 with Christopher Holland on an empty lot overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. They added a studio and garage in 1994 and covered porch in 2004.  Working with garden designer Gregory Raith, they have surrounded their lovely seaside home with rambling English style gardens which concentrate on mid-summer to September blooming species. The bright color spectrum is no accident and highlights Daisy’s love of the pink, lavender, and yellow-the  sunshine colors of a Sconset summer.

She also loved her herb garden which highlight her European taste for cooking her specialties for family and guests:  bouillabaisse and summer vegetables. A friendly dining table welcomes friends from far and near with grandchildren coming to call on Paul and Miss Daisy.  Their family mementos mix with paintings by some of Nantucket’s most famous: Mellie Cooper and Ralph Cahoon.  Mellie hails from Connecticut and has cornered a famous following on the island who adore her hand- painted works on paper. She makes her own molds and paper the way it was done in 15th century Italy from hand-woven rags.  Cahoon’s mermaids capture the fantasies of Nantucket whaling lore as the sailor is often tempted to chase the fictional charmers into the sea.

Special details like a cobbler’s bench made in to a coffee table adorn the wide open space of the gracious living room which flows onto the porches beyond. The lucky visitor to the Soros home will witness the quiet elegance and dignity of two of Nantucket’s special summer citizens, Daisy and Paul Soros.

48 Baxter Road: Residence of John and Diane Samuels

The Samuels home is a lovely summer residence designed and completed in 2001 by Lyman Perry, architect, with Keith Irvine as interior designer.  The attention to detail in every aspect of the home captures the feel of a 19th century home which Nantucket sea captains would have enjoyed. A hideaway on the third floor embraces their ocean view.

As you enter the house, the family room is on the left and a more formal parlor on the right is filled with portraits of whaling captains and their treasures from the South China Seas.  A tarred sailor’s hat adorns the entry table as a memento of the whaling era. Subtle works of art by Mellie Cooper are reminders of the paddlewheel generation in Nantucket waters.  A carved American eagle and Liverpool transfer pottery adorn the living room.

One of their favorite pieces is a hand-woven Orkney chair from Scotland, and it resides in the dining area adjacent to the working kitchen . A mural on canvas from New York City by Gracie and Sons bestows the powder room with gracious elegance.  A beetle cat in bone and canvas sporting the stars and stripes from 1898 by Mark Sutherland is in the family room where all their guests will be comfortable. Their outside guest house is a Nantucket delight which the Samuels and their family enjoy throughout the summer season.

92 Baxter Road: Residence of Daniel Korengold and Martha Dippell

Four is Enough is the motto for this lovely home designed in 2006-7 by Bentley Churchill for this family with four children from Chevy Chase, Maryland.  It replaced a small prior structure which was sold and moved by the Nantucket Housing Authority. This new building with a Mansard roof  spans a lot from the ocean to the Sankaty Golf Club. From their weather vane of Long John Silver and his parrot to the details of the herb and flower gardens, Martha and Dan are very present in this lovely effort, working  with a team of professional advisors on all fronts.

As one enters the home, a cranberry harvester has been converted to a coffee table .  Hand turned spindles adorn the stairs and landing above. In the kitchen , they have added green granite from quarries in New Hampshire with  brass kitchen panels from Austin, Texas. Dan’s artistic brother Tom has contributed his  painting of the Nantucket moors which is paired with a view of the Sankaty Light House by local artist, Ilya Kagan. The dining room has a lovely sideboard made in Nantucket in 1802 for Henry Gardner. A partners desk in the library reflects the close collaboration of husband and wife in this home by the sea where antiques, personal treasures and family heirlooms all abide in splendid harmony.