Tree Removal On Pleasant Street Underway For Historic Garden Project

The sight of more than 30 large trees coming down at a property on Pleasant Street over the past week has been jarring for some island residents, as the grove that was covered in English ivy has been a distinctive part of the mid-island streetscape for decades. 

Property owner Sam Phelan told the Current this week that the tree and ivy removal is part of a larger restoration project at 61 and 65 Pleasant Street, including the recreation of a garden that existed on the property in the late 1890s and early 1900s. 

The trees, Phelan said, are invasive sycamore maples that were suffering from various diseases, and the ivy had been largely destroyed by deer. But he acknowledged the community concern over so many old trees coming down. 

I can imagine that the removal of 30-plus sycamore maples and the English ivy from the roadside viewshed has prompted many questions and laments,” Phelan told the Current. “The current project between 61 Pleasant and 65 Pleasant is one more step in preserving the historic character of the property. In the late 1890s this area was a traditional New England garden populated with fruit trees, horse chestnuts, boxwood hedges, English ivy and flowering bushes. This garden was documented by the eminent landscape architect Arthur A. Shurtleff and his work was published in ‘House and Garden’ in 1902. It is our intention to work with Island designers and landscapers and Town boards to recapture the primary design features of the former King Garden and create a garden that is consistent with the 1900s look of the property.”

Photo by Nickleen Mosher. The property as seen in May 2008.

The Phelan family has already embarked on a preservation project to restore and maintain the historic architecture of the home at 65 Pleasant Street, which earned them an award from the Nantucket Preservation Trust in 2014

“The family has always been conscious of the historical uniqueness of the former King property and tried not to disrupt it,” Phelan said. “The historic buildings have been preserved and all new buildings and additions were built consistent with property’s historic architecture. The front porch of 65 Pleasant St was recently restored to its 1900 look with a refacing of the house front and installation of a Victorian era front porch…This restoration is a multi-year effort which we hope will further enhance the historical character of our Pleasant Street properties. We realize that the initial steps of preparing the land appear to be destructive. But, in actuality they are necessary steps towards preserving a unique part of Nantucket’s history.”

Phelan added that the timeline for the project is roughly two to three years. It is also the family’s intentions to work with the town on the possibility of adding a sidewalk to that portion of Pleasant Street.

Below is a blow up of the historic garden design superimposed on the current property, a graphic provided by Phelan. 

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