I write about Nantucket at least once a year. I have been visiting the island since I was a very small child. I am aware of the power of a place that you associate with simpler times, when your biggest challenge was how you might convince your mother to buy you a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone with chocolate jimmies, or beg one of the adults in the party to slide you a crisp dollar bill so you could run wild down the docks to the penny candy store and score golden foil wrapped chocolate coins, smarties, reams of paper spotted with rainbow colored candy dots, and a small handful of bit-o-honey. Innocence is an aphrodisiac that paints the town in pastel hues. I know this to be true, and yet, upon polling a number of adults whose experience of the island came much later in life, I can report to you with a ferocious certainty, the Gray Lady is magical.
I have stayed on the southern shore of the island facing the Atlantic, the northern side on Brandt Point, over the harbor in the Boat Basin, in town and Cliff Side and have had the pleasure of staying at the Veranda House on several occasions. Built in 1684, it survived the Great Fire of 1846 which destroyed roughly a third of downtown, engulfing more than 250 buildings in flames and reducing them to rubble. Stick built and loaded with whale oil the fire spread quickly. 338 years, several owners and iterations later the Veranda House is no more.
My last visit was in December of 2020, nary a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. My two girlfriends and I were the only occupants of the recently renovated eighteen room boutique hotel. We commandeered the reception come living room by the fire each morning and evening of our stay alternately sipping coffee and then wine by the fire. She was a beauty with her three decks that wrapped around the building, allowing you to sit and appreciate the view from her mountaintop location. I hope that her current owners will rebuilt and that the spirit of the Veranda House will live on.