By Arch. Anushi Garg
Once upon a time, there was a small island in the Atlantic Ocean called Nantucket, which flourished due to the whaling industry. This was a town situated many miles away from the mainland of the United States, off the coast of Maine.
The present-day townscape in this New England town takes its visitor back in time. The handsome maple trees and manicured privets provide a serene backdrop to the unpainted grey cedar-shingled houses with brick chimneys. The late-seventeenth to mid-eighteenth century buildings have somehow managed to survive the tides of modern times and remain intact. A visit to the historic houses uncovers Nantucket’s rich cultural heritage. All the houses here have their names written on quarter boards (ornate name boards for homes) and remind us of the architectural styles and traditions the town has seen over time.
The cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks are a delight for pedestrians and cyclists alike. There are no traffic signals, which are a welcome escape from streets of the modern world. The cranberry bogs, vineyards, and elms set out an ideal landscape in this quaint town.
However, parts of the island have recently been affected by erosion along the shoreline. Measures are being undertaken to address this issue by replanting vegetation in these areas. Many residences and one lighthouse have consequently been moved to other locations for their preservation.
Various groups on the island are working together extensively to keep the old traditions and culture of Nantucket alive. Through their initiatives, summers on the island are bustling with people and opportunities to explore its rich cultural heritage and biodiversity. Watching affluent American vacationers swarming in on their boats at the wharf is a very distinctive sight in this town.
There is something simple, harmonious and beautiful about this surviving grey lady of the sea that makes everything picturesque and romantic.
Celebrating many decades of collaboration between the University of Florida School of Architecture and US/ICOMOS at reception thrown by the University in Washington in December 2015. The occasion was the awarding of US/ICOMOS’s Ann Webster Smith Award to William J. Murtagh, Ph.D. and Roy Eugene Graham, FAIA. Each is a former holder of the Beinecke-Reeves Chair in Architectural Preservation at the University of Florida. Picture here (L to R) Christopher Silver, Dean, University of Florida College of Design, Construction and Planning; Ms. Arlene Fleming; Dr. Murtagh; Andrew Potts, J.D., US/ICOMOS Executive Director; Professor Graham and Professor Morris Hylton III, Historic Preservation Program Director.
A scene from Nantucket as captured by Architect Anushi Garg of Delhi, India.
In applying for the US/ICOMOS IEP, Ms. Anushi Garg, a junior architect from Delhi, India, wrote that her interest in heritage began in 2013 when she served as a volunteer working on cultural mapping and damage assessment in the city of Uttarakhand following flooding along the river Alaknanda. “While carrying out sketching, building assessments as well as sociological surveys” she writes
we became aware of the emotional and faith‐based significance of these structures to the locals. The damage had been more than just physical, it had affected their livelihoods. One of the major take‐aways of this workshop was the discovery that structures that were built using vernacular technology and materials performed better than contemporary structures.
Anushi holds a B.A. from the Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Indraprastha University and works at Ashok B. Lall Architects, Delhi, India. The assistance of ICOMOS India in arranging her internship is gratefully acknowledged. Anushi’s 2016 IEP Placement is with the Preservation Institute: Nantucket (PI:N), a program of the University of Florida. Now under the direction of Professor Morris Hylton III, PI:N has operated as a center for education in historic research and architectural preservation on Nantucket Island since 1972. US/ICOMOS, PI:N and the University of Florida have enjoyed a close collaboration for many years on a host of issues related to World Heritage and international cultural heritage exchange.