Photo courtesy of Nantucket Historical Association

In her Grammy Award winning song “The House That Built Me,” country music superstar Miranda Lambert ushers listeners down memory lane. Her tour bus takes a side trip to her childhood home where she hopes to “find herself” in memories from her youth. Miranda reminisces that the hand prints on the front steps are hers. The upstairs bedroom is where she did her homework and learned to play guitar. And her favorite dog is buried under the old oak tree in the back yard. Who says you can’t go home again?
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All of us have memories of our childhood homes. Some good, some not so good, but all part of the story that shaped our lives and thus the lives of our children. For some of the lucky ones, the home is multi-generational allowing grandparents the opportunity to share their life stories with family members in the very home they themselves grew up in. Those stories are sadly becoming fewer, but no less meaningful as we become a society of people who thrive on the latest gadgets, gizmos, innovations and shiny objects. Lest I sound too judgmental, I confess I love all things new…cars, clothes and even shiny objects. But I’m also a sentimental sap and grateful to live on an island steeped in centuries of history, architecture, multi-generational families and their stories.
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Nantucket is famous for its Old Historic District, beloved for it’s narrow cobblestone streets lined with stately Captain’s houses…some dating back to the 1600’s. Each one is unique in design and detail, but more importantly, each one holds its own story and is the guardian of the families who have called it home and the stories that shaped them. It’s an emotional experience to take long walks on a summer night through these streets. I like to pause in front of each historic home and consider that somewhere in the world is a child, grandchild or great grandchild who knows, like Miranda, that this is “the house that built them.”
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We’re incredibly fortunate on Nantucket to have organizations like the Historic District CommissionNantucket Historical Association and Nantucket Preservation Trust who pride themselves in preserving the integrity of the buildings, homes and the stories they hold. June is Nantucket Preservation month on the island and they have numerous activities planned to showcase the properties and the good work the organization is doing to ensure the structures and the memories they evoke are safeguarded.
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The next time you’re on Nantucket, take a Walking Tour with the Preservation Trust and learn more about the historic significance of many of the homes. If you’re on the island this weekend, enjoy some of the events and activities of the Nantucket Book Festival where stories abound. Or, join me, Lee Real Estate and The Nantucket Blackbook for a public “Storybook Open House” at 25 Hussey Street on Saturday, June 16 from 9:30 to 12:00 p.m. to learn all about the 1733 Caleb Gardner House, the history it holds and the opportunity for a new family to create their own Nantucket Experience here.
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Build it.