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An Artists Retreat on Nantucket Island ~
Discover Art Paired with History at the Century House

by Linda S. Manning / Photos by Paul S. Manning

Nantucket, flush with history dates back to the early 1600's when Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, an English mariner sailed his bark Concord to the southern most part of the island therefore placing it on the map.

At that time the sole occupants were the Wampanoag Indians who lived undisturbed for many years and charted the course for today.


Wharf Area

Steeped in history and charm, Nantucket has transformed herself numerous times. In the beginning it was known as a whaling community, today as a mecca for artists, writers, historians and of course, tourists.

What better way to showcase and perfect your talents than by experiencing this picturesque and scenic island measuring a mere three and a half by fourteen miles. Nantucket, known as an artist's colony in early days continues to flourish at present day as an expression of imaginative talents.

Today, blends of artistic flair are exemplified through a timeless environment. Nantucket, with its oldest house, The Jethro Coffin House built in 1686, its oldest American windmill built in 1746 and still in operation, and its oldest continuously operating guest house; The Century House, where time is captured and illustrated through inspired observation.

The site of The Century House dates back to the Cliff Road land purchase of 1833. Nantucket Historian, Edouard A. Stackpole discovered in an old Nantucket family of Scottish decent, Captain Robert Calder as the builder of Century House. During that time Captain Calder sailed the seas to hunt whale and after several successful sailings he finally returned to complete the construction of the house in the early 1840's. It further became a boarding house in the 1870's offering accommodations for islanders during the winter and summer months. Captain Calder chose this site for the ocean wind, the vistas, and the serenity.

Century House all dressed up

Today, innkeepers Jean Ellen Heron and Gerry Connick have created a new identity for the 16 room Century House. JeanE as a docent at Palm Beach's Norton Art Museum along with Gerry's vision and contribution to the artistic scene initiated the birth of the distinctive 'artist in residence program.'

As a direct result of the first Century House Professional Artists Workshop, including an eclectic group of artists with different approaches of artistic illustration and methodology to the present day expression of insight and critiquing of artists with similar angles, delivered what is known today as the Century House Charettes.

The term Charette was derived from a pre-1900 exercise at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France. There, students of architecture were given a design problem to solve within a precise amount of time. When the time was up, the scholar would hurry their work from the studio to the Ecole in a cart called a charette. Because time was of the essence, some students leaped into the cart in hopes of completing their work while en-route. Thus the term is known today as an ingenious method of brainstorming with like artists and professionals for a purpose.

It is with this in mind as the focal point for the workshops that an artist would be invited to participate.  After a review of the artists portfolio and when accepted by the innkeepers, the artist could apply as a 'point master.' Once acknowledged the artist creates their own seminar or Charrette with fellow artists. The Point/Master Artist invites two or three artists to participate in the workshop at the Century House, for several days of intense artistic expression. Ignited by the talents of like artists, energized by each other, enthusiasm flows, creating the perfect arena in which to paint.

Secluded area for painting

Outdoor discussion area

Areas of seclusion surrounding the Inn are transparent enough for one to produce a work of art without any disturbances. Other artists will venture off to scenic areas of the island to paint their imagery. According to JeannE, 'the most exciting result is how delicious it is to experience the unfolding of a new artist.'

Because of their love for the arts, JeannE and Gerry have created an atmosphere for artists to work hand in hand or brushstroke by brushstroke. Each will gain knowledge of and come up with suggestions and inspirations for each other, thus creating a successful artistic workshop.

As you walk through the historic inn, the present day art collection peaks out from every corner. Each of the guest rooms is also appointed with works from a variety of artists.

Guests of the inn are encouraged to get together and mingle with the artists. As a visitor, once you have been introduced to an artist and their work, their illustrations will always be remembered for years to come, thus recognition of a particular artists work.

So, who was the first illustrator invited to The Century House?

The initial 'artist in residence' was David Bareford of Greenwich, Connecticut. His work, primarily in the beginning was of watercolor and as a result of studying and painting the effects of the outdoors with its ever changing light and shadow. He then turned to oil painting to capture the outside movement of light from the landscape and the sea.

As you meander from the wrap around porch through the entrance hall into the parlor, works of art fill up the spaces for all to view.

Other artists such as Marla Koor, a talented and technical artist creates life-sized paintings of rich landscape and marine images in Nantucket brought into existence to create a range of feelings on canvas.

Michael Harrell

Michael Harrell, a self taught painter using watercolor and oil reflects the influence of American realists in his collections. He is known as having the ability to capture the dramatic effects of light.

William P. Duffy

William P. Duffy, an accomplished Master/Point artist painting a place only with a special feeling, journeyed to Nantucket and developed a deep appreciation for the unusual seascapes.

Paul Arsenault

A Canadian artist, Paul Arsenault created a colorful display of the wharf houses on the water with a dock aligned in the forefront.

George Augusta

But my favorite artist in residence is the work of George Augusta of Massachusetts. He traveled through out the country as a portrait specialist creating works in oil and pastel for individuals and institutions. However it was his figure, the lady in the red bikini that captured my heart. Not only are the colors vivid and his illustration captivating, the realistic composition, shading, and radiance caught my eye.

George Augusta

Today one can experience the melting of Nantucket's history, the glorious scenic environment, and the narration behind The Century House. Through the visions of Gerry and JeanE and their contributions to the artistic scene, they have truly captured a moment in time. See for yourself...

Visit and discover the hidden treasures of
Nantucket, Massachusetts at
The Century House

Article and photos submitted by:

Author, Linda S. Manning
Photos by Paul S. Manning

The Kitt Shepley House
23 Division Street
Newport, Rhode Island 02840


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