8 Howard Street
Re-Awakening of an Art Colony Treasure
The house at 8 Howard Street known as Greater Light, a property of the Nantucket Historical Association, was a summer home and art studio created in the 1930s by Gertrude and Hanna Monaghan, two Quaker sisters from Philadelphia. Greater Light lovingly illustrates the era of Nantucket’s history when an art colony thrived in the sleepy island community in the aftermath of Nantucket’s whaling heyday.
Between the two world wars, Nantucket was a place of quiet beauty and simple living that appealed to a group of artists who made it their place of inspiration during the summer season. The Monaghan sisters were part of this Nantucket art colony, first arriving on the island in 1923, when they rented a small studio near the harbor. The Nantucket they encountered was dilapidated and old-fashioned, supporting a population of only three thousand year-round residents.
Greater Light was originally a livestock barn dating to the late-eighteenth century. It was discovered by Hanna and Gertrude in the summer of 1929, when they followed a herd of cows that was being led up Main Street. The cows turned into Howard Street, and then disappeared into a massive barn. The sisters followed, and their love affair with Greater Light began.