Saturday, July 28, 2018

Oldest House on Nantucket

The Jethrow Coffin House (16 Sunset Hill, Nantucket) built about 1686 is the oldest house on Nantucket. By the time I arrived to sketch the house was already closed. It is one of a series of excellent Island-wide attractions of the Nantucket Historical Association (Nantucket Whaling Museum, on Broad Street). It is the only surviving structure from the island's 17th century English settlement. Because of the brick design on its chimney, it is also called the Horseshoe House. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968. It is now a historic house museum.

The Coffin House is a 1-1/2 story wood frame structure, with a steeply-pitched roof and a large brick central chimney. The chimney is adorned with a projection in the shape of an inverted U; this has been variously interpreted as a horseshoe, or as a hex for warding off witches, or as a vernacular rendition of Jacobean brickwork styling. The house has only a relatively small number of casement windows, all of which feature diamond panes. There are two on either side of the main entrance, with others placed asymmetrically on the other walls. The house has a classic New England saltbox appearance, with a lean to (an addition in the early 18th century, rebuilt during restoration in the early 20th) extending to the rear of the house.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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