Hadwen House & Garden
On the outskirts of downtown Nantucket, at the corner of Pleasant and Main Street, a pair of awe-inspiring mansions will draw your attention. The Hadwen House at 96 Main, along with its near-twin at 94 Main, greets visitors with stately Greek-revival style columns and artfully manicured gardens.
The Hadwen House was built in the mid-1800s for William Hadwen who had made his fortune in the whaling and silver trades. At the time, Nantucket was enjoying the height of its fame as the epicenter of the whaling industry. The house is an elaborate testament to this era of wealth and prosperity on Nantucket, and to the success and penchant of Hadwen himself. The imposing pair of buildings indeed makes a statement in contrast to more commonplace wood-shingled and brick homes in the area.
Hadwen employed the services of a local builder and self-taught architect to make his vision a reality. The end result was an estate designed for entertaining and lavish parties. The Hadwens filled the rooms with everything from sewing groups to formal events. Their nephew inherited the house and continued the tradition of hosting grand celebrations. The home remained in the family until the 1920s, long after the glamorous years of whaling had faded away. The next family of owners kept Hadwen House as a summer home and gifted the property to the Nantucket Historical Association in the early 1960s.
Hadwen House first opened to the public as a museum in 1964, initially showcasing the furnishings and artwork left by previous owners. In the 1990s, however, the house was restored to channel its 19th century heyday. Today, Hadwen House continues to host visitors and events where guests are surrounded by the extravagance of a bygone era, and much of the structure remains just as it was in 1850.
Outside, visitors can explore the Victorian garden, meticulously tended by the Nantucket Garden Club. The garden’s enclosure, stone stairway, paths and variety of blooms providing color throughout the year make Hadwen House Garden a sought-after venue for weddings, garden parties, dinners, cocktails, and picnics. While you’re in Nantucket, be sure to stop in at the Hadwen House for a tour of the museum or just to wander through the timeless garden. If you have an upcoming event in need of a setting, you may have just found the perfect place.