Old Gaol of Nantucket is one of the oldest jails existing in America. The old English spelling Old Gaol is pronounced ‘Jail’. In 1805 the taxpayers of Nantucket Massachusetts authorized $2, 090 to build a new secure penal facility at 1696 Vestal Street.
The colonial architecture wooden structure opened in 1806. Construction used massive oak timbers reinforcing with iron rods running the length of the walls. Iron rods extended across the windows and heavy wooden doors were also reinforced with iron. It saw its last prisoner in 1933, after which the property was closed and in 1946 was deeded to the Nantucket Historical Association.
It is in dire need of repair due to its age, fortunately several grants were awarded to meet this need. A restoration project beginning the fall of 2013 is scheduled to be completed by June 2014.
15 R Vestal Street
May to early September
Monday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 17:00 PM
Sunday 12:00 to 17:00 PM
Nantucket is an island 30 miles south of Cap Cod MA with a population of 10,172. It’s a popular tourist destination and summer colony when population expands to over 50,000. The name Nantucket is an alteration of the Algonquian name for the island meaning ‘faraway land or island’. It has the ‘finest surviving architecture of an 18th century New England seaport town.
Although personal cars may be transported by ferry to the island it may not be the best idea. Parking is limited and congestion may be experienced driving on the island. There are alternate modes of transportation that should be considered. A shuttle bus system serves all areas of the island as well as taxi service.
Bicycling is popular for exploring the island. Renting a bicycle at the ferry facility is simple but there are also shops throughout the city offering bicycles rental. There are 6 bike paths enabling visitors to tour the entire island.
Hyannis MA is the primary transportation hub of Cap Cod with service to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The primary choice is ferry with air service also offered. Ferry service for cars or passengers is an 80-minute ride from the terminal. Air service is available to Nantucket Memorial Airport, a three-runway facility on the south side of the island.
Hyannis is a 6 3/4 hour drive of 451 miles from Rochester NY. Drive east on I-90 Thruway passing through Albany into Massachusetts to Boston. Then drive south on route 3 to route 6 following sign to ferry service at Hyannis. Then it’s onward for your stay in Nantucket.
Here’s a visitor’s impression on their tour of Old Gaol jail.
“It was so cool to walk through the old jail and just imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago behind those thick musty walls.”