Please note:
Log in is only required for members to access their member accounts.

History of 'Sconset

'Sconset History Highlights

  • Siasconset is a Wampanoag Algonquian name. The Wampanoag people lived undisturbed until 1641 when the island was deeded by the British to Thomas Mayhew.
  • By 1676, a whaling station was established by the early setters. 'Sconset was soon a fledging village consistent of a few small houses on either side of the lookout platform.
  • In 1776, the well for the 'Sconset Town Pump was dug at a cost of 20 pounds, 4 shillings, and 9 pence. It served the community for over a century. It was rebuilt in 1882 and was in use until early in the 19th century. In 1921, it was given to the Nantucket Historical Society for preservation.
  • The area was settled as a fishing village in the 17th century. It was in the 1830's that people from Town began to look for refuge from the noise and smells of Nantucket's whaling industry and began to summer in 'Sconset.
  • In 1877, Edward Underhill bought land in the village and constructed cottages in the fashion of the original fishing shacks on what is now Evelyn Street and then rented them to summer tourists.
  • In 1882, a group of men formed a corporation under the name of Siasconset Union Chapel and organized a board of trustees.  Construction of the Chapel at a cost of $1,680 was completed in 1883.
  • From the earliest Tourist Guide (1887): About 8 miles from the town, on the northeast shore of the island, is situated a picturesque village of C askance it or "Sconse it" as it is called by the Islanders. This contains a hotel, the Atlantic house and about 50 cottages, occupied through the summer months by visitors from all parts of the country. It is located on a high bank or bluff, about 50 feet from the sea and commands a fine view of the ocean and the countless sale of vessels that are continually passing by that side of the island.
  • The 'Sconset Actors Colony dates to the late 1880's, when there as no air conditioning on Broadway. When the New York City theaters closed their doors for the sweltering summer months, some of the actors traveled to 'Sconset, where they would set up shop.
  • To provide easy access to the growing attraction of 'Sconset as a summer destination, the Nantucket Central Railroad was built in 1881 to connect the Town of Nantucket with Surfside, Tom Nevers, and 'Sconset, which became the railroad's headquarters. Round trip cost 35 cents. It was discontinued in 1918 when the tracks were shipped off to Europe for the Allied war effort. The passenger car remained on Nantucket and was made a part of The Club Car restaurant at One Main Street.
  • In 1898, the 'Sconset Golf Club was organized on the Levi Coffin lands.
  • In 1899, the Actors Colony pooled their money and for $3000, but a "hall of amusement," known as the 'Sconset Casino, with tennis courts, a bowling alley, and a stage. It had a large main room, several small antechambers for set-building, and dressing rooms. The Casino is still a major focal point of the village, hosting many diverse island events and social gatherings.
  • The historic Chanticleer Restaurant dates to 1901 when stage actress Agnes Everett opened it as a tea room. Later she added a small wing and sold ice-cream cones. In 1969, it was revamped as a sophisticated French restaurant. The current owners have preserved the iconic carousel horse, the interior ambiance and gardens, and are continuing the tradition of fine cuisine and wines.
  • In 1901, 'Sconset was selected as the site of the new Marconi Wireless to speed up the process of reporting the shipping news to New York. The Nantucket lightship 42 miles southeast of 'Sconset was perfectly situated to communicate with the more than 250 ships passing daily.
  • In 1912, the first distress signal from the Titanic was heard at the Marconi station.
  • In 1926, electricity was brought to 'Sconset.
  • In 1946, a fugitive German prisoner of war was apprehended in 'Sconset.

Building with 'Sconset in Mind (PDF)
A hard copy is also available (at no charge) from the 'Sconset Trust

About the man honored by the David Gray Memorial Rotary in 'Sconset:  
Moguls and Mansions: David Gray (Spring 2013)

Nantucket Places & People:  'Sconset's Sanguine Genius 
(Yesterday's Island, Vol. 38, Issue 10 (2008)) 

Nantucket Historical Association Digital Exhibit: Sconset 02564
Sconset Family Album
The 'Sconset School

NHA | Historic Nantucket Articles

Memories of "Old 'Sconset"
by Alice Beers
Originally published in the Historic Nantucket, Vol. 44, no. 2 (Summer 1994), p. 41-49

'Sconset in Comparison
By Joan Pennock Craig
Originally published in the Historic Nantucket, Vol 38, no. 3 (Fall 1990), p. 43-44

The Path Along the Bluff
By Edouard A. Stackpole
Originally published in the Historic Nantucket, Vol 20, no. 4 (April 1973), p. 19-27

Nantucket's First Swimming Pool Built in 'Sconset
by Clement A. Penrose
Originally published in the Historic Nantucket, Vol. 44, no. 2 (Summer 1994), p. 34-35

The Casino 
by Amy Jenness
Originally published in the Historic Nantucket, Vol 50, no. 3 (Summer 2001), p. 5-6

The Nantucket Railroad
By Peter Schmid
This article first appeared in the Summer 2000 issue of Historic Nantucket.

’Sconset Days: Excerpts from a Life 
By Robert Longley
Originally published in the Historic Nantucket, Vol. 57, No. 3 incorrectly labeled Vol. 58 (Summer 2008)

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software