What to Do

Nantucket's Oldest House

The Jethro Coffin House was built in 1686 as a wedding present for Coffin and Mary Gardner. It is the only surviving structure from the original English settlement and the oldest residence on the island.

Its distinctive saltbox design was popular in early New England. It was named for the roof lines similarity to the wooden boxes used to store salt in colonial times.

Coffin sold the house in 1708 to island weaver Nathaniel Paddack.
George Turner, a cooper, acquired the property in the 1840s and later abandoned it during the depressed economic years of the Civil War.

The Nantucket Historical Association acquired the house in 1923, and conducted a reconstruction of the original settlement in partnership with the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now called Historic New England.

In 1987, the Oldest House was struck by lightning, and severely damaged, nearly cut in two, prompting a restoration project. Dimly lit by leaded-glass diamond-pane windows, it's filled with period furniture such as lathed ladder-back chairs and a clever trundle bed on wooden wheels.

Historic Garden at the Oldest House

The historical society has launched a landscaping effort to restore the property’s ground to something more in keeping with its historic age. A cobblestone driveway has been removed and a continuing brush removal effort is trying to restore a more period meadow-like setting. The effort also includes the construction of a kitchen vegetable and herb garden and the planting of old-variety apple trees.

The garden include period appropriate vegetables such as carrots, onions, cabbages and parsnips and more than 50 different varieties of herb grown for kitchen, medical and household uses.


Need to know

Address: 16 Sunset Hill

Organization: Nantucket Historical Society

Telephone: 508-228-1894

Website: www.nha.org


Monday - Saturday, 10 A.M. - 5 P.M.

Sunday 12 P.M. - 5 P.M.

Tours of historic sites on the hour and the half-hour. Last tour at 4:30 P.M.

Some sites may close occasionally due to weather conditions or maintenance work


Adults: $6

Children: $3

Also available in combination with Whaling Museum admission.