Nantucket’s North Shore
A Neighborhood History
Street name changes come hard to families who live in the same place for generations. Frances Ruley Karttunen’s parents’ home address was 1 Sunset Avenue. That grandiose name for an unpaved cul-de-sac has since changed to Kite Hill Lane. She grew up in a cottage behind her grandparents’ house at 12 Cliff Road, previously North Street. She now lives half a block away at 67 Centre Street, which was until recently 67 North Centre Street.
The author is a thorough North Shore girl, having passed her childhood on Kite Hill, walking each day to classes at Academy Hill School, getting her feet wet in the Lily Pond, and attending Girl Scout day camp in Coffin Park.
Her mother, aunt, uncles, grandfather, and great-grandmother all came into the world at the family home on 12 Cliff Road, which her great-great-great-grandfather purchased in 1809. Prior to the family’s move, they had lived on nearby North Liberty Street. In fact, her ancestors have lived on the North Shore since English settlers first set foot on Nantucket in the 1600s. She is a direct descendant of Jethro Coffin and Mary Gardner Coffin, whose house on Sunset Hill has been a landmark for the North Shore neighborhood since the 1680s.
A graduate of Nantucket public schools, Fran went to Radcliff College for her bachelor’s degree and earned a PhD in linguistics from Indiana University. During thirty years at the University of Texas at Austin, she conducted research in Mexico, where she compiled a dictionary of one of the Indian languages spoken there. Her other books include Between worlds: Interpreters, Guides, and Survivors, as well as books and articles on linguistics, social history and Latin America. In 2005, Fran teamed-up with Spinner Publications to produce the 320-page cultural and photographic work, The Other Islanders: People Who Pulled Nantucket’s Oars.
Nantucket’s North Shore is a labor of love to retrieve and preserve neighborhood history, which like the lost Nathaniel Paddack House, might otherwise fade completely from living memory.
Photographer Allen Reinhard, Middle Moors Ranger for the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, has contributed more than a dozen original photographs to this volume. He first arrived on Nantucket in 1960, and for more than two decades operated Snow’s Cycle Shop on Main Street. Over the years he has served on town and county boards, committees and commission, including the Board of Selectmen, Land Bank, Cemetery, and Wannacomet Water Commissions, and the Roads and Right of Way Committee. He has also served as president of the Nantucket Shipwreck Lifesaving Museum Advisory Board. Despite his busy schedule, he finds time for photography and poetry.