Quaker House is open seasonally from June to August.
Tuesday—Sunday 10:00-1:00 & 2:00-5:00
Admission is $5. Members and children under 12 free.
The Museum offers group tours of Evergreen House all year and seasonally at Quaker House to groups over 5 people.
Typical group rate is $2 per person (including children) but some workshops/programs might include additional supplies and will be charged accordingly. Please contact the curator, 464-2300 in advance to book a time and for more information.
For further information regarding specific programs please refer to the “Programming” link on the sidebar of this website.
Due to the War of Independence, Nantucket residents and New England whaling industry watched as 80 % of the whaling fleet was destroyed. Crews were captured and imprisoned, while blockades prevented any from earning a living at sea. When the war ended, too much competition has arisen in surrounding areas, and the final blow was when the British Parliament affixed a duty to American whale oil. To escape this tax as well as the fierce competition, a deal was struck with Governor John Parr to migrate Nantucket whalers to Nova Scotia. The first wave of Quaker settlers appeared in 1785. They arrived and built their houses on the foundations of the first settlement, and also built wharves, 2 spermacetti candle factories, warehouses and workshops.
The Whaling life was difficult for both the men and women. Men were at sea for up to 2 years at a time and the life was dangerous. Nonetheless, the Dartmouth fleet underwent a rapid expansion and became the rival of every whaling centre throughout the world. In fact, it was a little too successful and even rivaled the mighty British and West Indies markets. In a ploy to bring the success home to the British Isles, the Quaker community was made an impressive offer and the whaling industry moved to Milford Haven in Wales after being in Dartmouth for only a decade. Some of the Quakers remained in Dartmouth however, the most notable being Seth Coleman. One of his grandsons, a master whaler out of Nantucket, signed on a new crew member Herman Melville who wrote Moby Dick, one of the great literary classics.
Photograph by Lisa O’Neill
In 1971, after a surge of urban renewal resulted in the destruction of many historic homes in the downtown core, the Museum Society preserved Quaker House and converted it to an interpreted historic house open to the public every summer. Originally the home of William Ray, a cooper (barrel maker) and the house is considered one of the oldest domestic structures in the metro area. Quaker House is restored and furnished to reflect its 1785 construction date. The house is a municipally and provincially registered historic site. It is representative of its construction period and reflective of the Nantucket Island domestic architecture from which it is derived.
It is interesting to note that when renovation work was done and beams were exposed, they were numbered as if for easy assembly upon reaching Dartmouth. Also of interest was the discovery of 4 separate shoes within its walls, a long reaching folk superstition. It was believed that if you embedded one shoe from a pair within the walls, the devil would be always looking for the other shoe and never find you!
Photograph by Crystal Martin
Costumed interpreters will give you a guided tour of this incredible house during your visit, and there is a fully researched and interpreted heritage garden to enjoy in the back yard.
Photograph by Hal Oare