January 2023

The Town of Nantucket, with the Nantucket Historical Commission (NHC) and through the assistance of the Town’s Preservation Planner engaged Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. (PAL) to develop a comprehensive Island-Wide Survey Plan and Pilot Survey of the Fish Lots Neighborhood Historic Properties Survey. PAL created 97 Form Bs and 1 Form A (aka HDC Surveys) within the Fish Lots Neighborhood. They are currently wrapping up the Island-Wide Survey Plan by the end of January -finalized based on MHC & NHC’s review comments. 

This FY21 MHC Grant Project was funded in part by the Town of Nantucket, and in part through a Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) Survey & Planning Grant, with Federal funds from the National Park Service, US Department of the Interior. The Town of Nantucket received this grant from MHC due to our status of being a Certified Local Government (CLG) through the National Park Service. MHC is required under federal law to allocate 10% of their annual federal funding to CLGs. 

FY21 survey forms of the Fish Lots are available to the public through the Planning & Land Use Services office at 2 Fairgrounds Road and available eventually for download from the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS), which can also be found on the Town’s GIS. A future link of the finalized Survey Plan will be available for viewing on the Town’s website.

The Town of Nantucket, NHC and the Town’s Preservation Planner, Holly Backus are very happy with work PAL has done for our historic island.  

The Island-Wide Survey Plan MAIN objectives:

  1. To provide a preliminary identification and assessment of the nature and location of historic, cultural and architectural resources, including previously undocumented or under-documented resources, including definition of neighborhood units and the resources they contain;
  2. To identify selection criteria and priorities for a phased comprehensive survey of these resources by neighborhood unit; 
  3. To develop an action plan for implementing priority survey goals for the creation of a comprehensive inventory be neighborhood unit of the cultural and historic resources. The action plan will be phased based on priority.

The Survey Plan divides Nantucket into 59 neighborhoods survey units (not including the Islands of Tuckernuck & Muskeget, but to be included in the future.) Each of the neighborhood survey units has its own qualities and characteristics – they differ in size, density of development, and type and number of built resources. Historic resources predominately date from the 18th, 19th or 20th centuries. 


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The proposed survey of Nantucket will need to be conducted in phases over multiple years. PAL recommends that the Town accelerate the survey time with appropriate partnerships such as the Nantucket Preservation Trust and Sconset Trust. However, the overall methodology of the work will need to adhere to the MHC survey standards for consistency in the overall comprehensive survey. The Town is thankful for this important public and private partnerships with NPT & Sconset Trust to continue this work for our historic island community. 

The Town & NHC also received a FY22 Planning & Survey Grant to continue the survey work. PAL was once again awarded a contract with the Town to continue this important initiative. The FY22 project includes wrapping up survey work of contributing structures within the Fish Lots Neighborhood and then starting the Brant Point/Cliffside Neighborhood. 

PAL is scheduled to visit Nantucket in April for their fieldwork portion of the project. Staff will be sure to inform the public of the exact dates when the time comes. Any questions or comments on this ongoing initative, please contact the Town’s Preservation Planner/Local CLG Coordinator, Holly Backus at hbackus@nantucket-ma.gov


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