There are 92 steps to the top of the tower of the First Congregational Church and though not air conditioned, visitors always seem to find the climb worth the effort. The windowed tower offers views in all directions; from the red and white stripes of Sankaty Lighthouse to the brick and cobblestone quaintness of Nantucket Town directly below. A collection of historic photographs and artifacts are on display on a mezzanine level, providing a nice, informative, resting stop on the climb up. A donation is requested.
Keeping the island's history alive is the goal of the Nantucket Historical Association. Many of the museums and historical sites on Nantucket fall under the NHA's umbrella, which makes it an excellent place to start when taking a tour of the island. Purchase a membership to receive admission to all of the NHA's sites and immerse yourself in the island's past. Individual memberships provide far more benefits other than just museum entrance fees.
Vineyard Arts Project in Edgartown is a lovely studio facility dedicated to promoting the performing arts on the island. The facility boasts rehearsal studios, workshops, classes and performances during the summer months. There are also living quarters for visiting performers and artists on-site.
The Martha's Vineyard Museum and Historical Society is devoted to the history and culture of this small Massachusetts island. Explore the island's fascinating past and learn about the people who lived here. The historical society first came together in 1922. Today, the museum and society are housed in historical buildings that are wonderful to walk through. Visitors to this museum can trace back their ancestry through the Historical Society's extensive genealogical services. There are special exhibits, classes, seminars, workshops, and movies hosted here throughout the year.
The original lighthouse, constructed in 1785, was a wooden structure that was built to support the then important port of Sandy Point. However, the historical tower was destroyed in the 1984 hurricane and after a few years a 70-foot (21-meter) replica was built near the site of the old tower to conserve the island's historical character. It is now part of the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, much of which is inaccessible by road unless you have a four wheel drive vehicle. Nature history tours are offered by the refuge, wherein visitors can climb up the tower or even explore the surrounding area.
The buildings in the Historic District of Nantucket reflect all the charm of an old New England town. It is here where every nook, every alleyway, and every antiquated cottage coyly croons the secrets of the neighborhood's storied past. Its ocean-side Historic District is touted to be one of the oldest in the country. Although the dainty, wood-built buildings may not be the most scenic, their very fabric weaves together stories which date back as far as the 17th Century, some also lending insights into the Civil War. At this olden district, modest, pastel-hued shops, bed and breakfast inns, and traditional restaurants lie strewn across the winding, cobbled lanes, as well as Main Street, a major thoroughfare of the area. Mornings spill into afternoons at this antiquated quarter which is a heartwarming slice of American history. Since cars are discouraged in the laid-back quarter, Nantucket is a pleasant zone traversed only by cycles, bikes, and mopeds.
The United Methodist Church offers a Sunday service at 10a. The basement also serves as the current home of the Theatre Workshop of Nantucket.
Let's face it; there's only so much sunlight and heat that you can take before it gets to be a bit much. Luckily, situated in the middle of town is the Nantucket Atheneum, also known as the Public Library. The cards are free if you're a Nantucket resident or property owner, and five dollars if you're neither. The Atheneum offers weekly, and monthly story events in the Gallery, or Garden for children. Check calendar for details and times.
The Nantucket Dreamland Theater, run by the Nantucket Dreamland Foundation, is a pioneering all-season non-profit center. Located in downtown, it occupies a historic building that is over a century old. This venue houses a movie theater with a seating capacity for 318 persons, as well as a studio theater for stage productions and cultural events. It showcases movies, film screenings, performing arts, entertainment programs and community activities.
Spermaceti is a substance derived from whales that was once used to make candles. This converted 1846 candle factory is now home to a museum about Nantucket's whaling history - and it's an excursion that can not be missed. It features a tremendous collection of artifacts including the skeleton of a 46-foot sperm whale, the 16-foot (5-meter) glass prism from Sankaty Head Light, portraits of sea captains, a large scrimshaw collection, and so much more!