The Nantucket House
It was called the Nantucket house by the family in recent years but it was Hazel and Andrew’s house. Andrew or “Cussie” to his friends, built the home in 1951 on land given to them in 1941 as a wedding present by her parents, Oliver and Helen Fisher. It had taken them 10 years to save for this house due to the war, the birth of their identical twin daughters and establishing Andrew’s masonry business.
When Andrew completed the chimney, he carved A.S.B in the cement as he had for all chimneys he built over the years on the island. It stood for Andrew Sandsbury Brady. He was named after his great grandfather Captain Andrew Sandsbury who had been a whaler before serving on the South Shoal Lightship #1 for twenty years. It enabled him and others to identify his work. He was also proud of his workmanship and it was a way of leaving his mark just as his great grandfather had on his now famous lightship baskets that he had made many years before.
The one thing Hazel insisted on was a hallway that went from the front door to the back door. This took up additional space in the small, two bedroom cottage but she liked the idea of having a space to invite visitors in without entirely having them in.
The small living room was quaint and resembled a dollhouse. Hazel was in the business of making slipcovers and curtains so her own handiwork of various patterns over the years covered the furniture and windows. There was a red and black oval shaped braided rug that lay over most of the floor. Beneath the rug and throughout much of the home was the wood of an old house that had been torn down on Pleasant Street. The fireplace was along the back wall with built in bookcases on either side. The house was positioned in such a way that if you looked out the large bay window at the far end of the room, the traffic seemed to head straight toward the house only to veer off at the very last second.
The two bedrooms were on the left side of the hallway off of a shorter hallway separated by a small bathroom. The front bedroom which had been the twin’s room growing up had light blue painted furniture with blue floral wallpaper and the back master bedroom had wood finish furniture and reddish pink floral wallpaper. The decor of the bedrooms remained unchanged throughout the years with the exception of various draperies as did much of the rest of the house.
Andrew died suddenly April 15,1961 leaving Hazel a widow at the age of 38. Hazel found him that morning on the floor of the living room beside the fireplace he had built 10 years prior. It shocked the island when word spread of his death.He had seemed in perfect health that morning when he was downtown talking with friends. The official finding of the medical examiners was that he died of a blood clot in the brain.
This poem written shortly after his death by one of the twins was found buried in a box in the attic many years later.
Hazel continued to live in the house and never remarried. The twins raised their children in other states but visited often with her grandchildren. Family and friends who wanted to visit the island would rent her extra bedroom giving her an additional source of income. When her mother was alive, she often stayed with her at her Main Street home so she could rent the entire house for the summer. It was a solidly built home and small enough for her to take care of in order to hold onto it for her daughters.
After a battle with cancer, Hazel died in her home thirty years after Andrew with her daughters by her side. The house was cared for by the twins for another 27 years until they decided it was time to let it go. With it being such a small home, they knew there was a good chance upon its sale that it would be torn down. It was a difficult decision knowing that their fathers handiwork would not stand the test of time and the solid wood he had salvaged from another Nantucket home to build his own would be discarded without a second thought. Although he died at such a young age, the house he built enabled him to take care of his family, providing extra income to Hazel and with its sale, caring for the twins in their old age.
A new much larger home now stands in its place to be rented by vacationers for many years to come who seek to enjoy the island and peek into the unique history of its past inhabitants. They will never know that there once stood a small, modest home in that very place that contained the ordinary lives of descendants of the founders, whalers, lightship keepers, basket weavers, surf men, shopkeepers, farmers, mothers and fathers who made Nantucket the extraordinary place that it is.