Nantucket, MA – The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) is pleased to announce that the Community Preservation Committee has awarded the MMA $319,000.00 for the conservation and restoration of the exterior of its historic 1908 Maria Mitchell Vestal Street Observatory and its 1922 attached Astronomical Study. The award is a grant recently approved at Nantucket’s Annual Town Meeting on June 25, 2020. Coupled, with funding from the M. S. Worthington Foundation, these monies will allow the MMA to attend to much-needed work to the exterior of the building which will alleviate shifting of brickwork, replacement of rusted lintels, and rebuilding and replacement of spalling bricks and mortar. It will also allow for copper work to be completed on the historic 1908 dome roof which is made of copper and other alloys.
According to Jascin Leonardo Finger, the MMA’s Deputy Director and Curator, “This has been a project long in the making. We are excited and grateful to our funders and ready to get to work on this historic, continually working observatory so that it can continue to be a vital part of astronomical research into the next 100 years while also standing as a shining example of important historic preservation work and historic architecture on Nantucket.”
The Community Preservation Act, established in Massachusetts and established on Nantucket in 2002, has a Committee consisting of nine members. The members include an appointed designee from each of the following: the Conservation Commission; the Historic District Commission; the Nantucket Islands Land Bank; the Planning Board; the Park and Recreation Commission; the Nantucket Housing Authority; and the Board of Selectmen. There are also two members-at-large from the community. The CPC studies the needs, possibilities, and resources of the Town regarding community preservation. The committee makes recommendations to Town Meeting for: the acquisition, creation and preservation of open space; for the acquisition and preservation of historic resources; for the acquisition, creation and preservation of land for recreational use; for the creation, preservation and support of community housing; and for rehabilitation or restoration of such open space, historic resources, land for recreational use and community housing that is acquired or created based on grant applications from entities in the community.
CPA funding has allowed the MMA to complete many important historic preservation projects on the historic Mitchell House (1790), birthplace of America’s first woman astronomer Maria Mitchell, as well as the conservation of the exterior of its Research Center, formerly known as the MMA Science Library (ca. 1830 and 1930). It also supplied substantial funding for the all-inclusive, accessible playground on Old South Road, a collaboration between the Maria Mitchell Association, Nantucket Islands Land Bank, and several other entities on and off-island.
The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) is a private non-profit organization. Founded in 1902, the MMA works to preserve the legacy of Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and educator, Maria Mitchell. The Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium, a research center, and preserves the historic birthplace of Maria Mitchell. A wide variety of science and history-related programming is offered throughout the year for people of all ages.