About ‘Sconset

Siasconset, as ‘Sconset is properly but rarely called, derives its name from an Indian word meaning “near the great whale bone.” The village was first settled three centuries ago as a whaling outpost, centered about a lookout tower for spotting the giant sea mammals as they swam off ‘Sconset’s shores. Many of ‘Sconset’s cottages date from these early origins, from rough-hewed 17th and 18th century fishermen’s shanties. They have been altered and added on to over the centuries, of course, but in scale and style they remain true to their history.

Not only does ‘Sconset today carry physical embodiments of the past in its architecture, the village also maintains an air of peacefulness that was noted long ago. “I had never before seen a spot better calculated to cherish contemplative ideas,” an 18th century visitor wrote, “perfectly unconnected with the great world, and far removed from its perturbations.” It’s a description that many who know ‘Sconset would fondly apply nowadays.

A key and beloved ‘Sconset feature is Sankaty Head Light. This iconic brick tower, reached by Baxter Road, was constructed in 1950 and rises to a height of almost 70 feet. Sankaty Light was the first in the United States to be equipped with a Fresnel lens as original equipment. Over the years, erosion slowly ate away at the bluff in front of the lighthouse, and by the early 1990s all buildings on the grounds were removed except for the tower itself. After the Perfect Storm in 1991 tore away huge chunks of the bluff near the lighthouse, six ‘Sconseters formed Save Our Sankaty to rescue the endangered tower.

In 2007, the ’Sconset Trust took ownership of the Historic Sankaty Head Lighthouse property and moved the Lighthouse to safer ground. This epic historic preservation project was successful due to a tremendous island-wide outpouring of support. The ’Sconset Trust is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the Lighthouse and its grounds in perpetuity.

Today it stands as a sentinel for all who come to visit and enjoy the peaceful or sometimes windy setting atop the Sankaty Head bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.


Listen to our Audio Tour, highlighting the major aspects of the erosion control project at Sconset Bluff, by calling 508-443-6443.


“Situated as it is at the top of the bluff, always commanding intriguing glimpses of the sea and the heathland on either side, the ‘Path’ curves and dips as it follows the conformation of the bluff, and provides an entirely unique opportunity for a stroll to and from the famed lighthouse at Sankaty.”—”The Path Along The Bluff,” Edouard A. Stackpole, Nantucket Historical Association.