A Brief History Our Restaurant and Our Historical Location
Almost two hundred years ago, the cobblestones of Main Street echoed with the reverent simplicity of Quaker speech and the colorful rhythms of strange tongues from the far corners of the world. The wharves were crowded with a thousand casks of oil and the happy confusion of a multitude of men outfitting the sailing ships that were to touch on the distant shores of Tahiti and Oahu. The small shops were redolent with the exotic bouquet of oranges from Seville, olives from Cadiz, and aromatic spices from the Orient. This was Nantucket Island in 1845, just when the island’s thriving whaling industry was beginning to decline.
The Jared Coffin House - Home of the Our Restaurant
It was in 1845 that the Jared Coffin House was erected. Jared Coffin, one of the wealthiest ship owners during the heyday of whaling, built Nantucket’s first mansion so that his wife could live closer to town. After less than a year of living in the stately three-story house, Mrs. Coffin decided she would rather live in Boston and so the Jared Coffin House was placed on the market. The house stood strong against the ravages of the Great Fire of 1846 with its brick façade and steel roof, one of the few Main Street buildings that survived.
In April of 1846, the Nantucket Steamboat Company purchased the Jared Coffin House for less than half of its original cost and converted it into a “public house,” christening the building the “Ocean House.” In that same year, the basement was converted into a billiard saloon and gentleman’s smoking room.
In 1857, Eben W. Allen purchased the Ocean House for $5,000. He built a three-story addition that same year that added a kitchen, dining room, and sixteen bedrooms. A year later, Allen installed gas in the parlors, halls, dining room, and main chambers. By 1872, the Ocean House saw as many as 1,700 guests in a season.
Many distinguished guests have passed through the doors of the Jared Coffin House. In July of 1852, Herman Melville stayed at the Ocean House, finally visiting the island that he described in detail in his classic novel, Moby-Dick. Even more notable was a visit by President Ulysses S. Grant on August 27, 1874.
Allen sold the establishment in 1872, after which it passed through many hands and many additions, which diminished the historical beauty of the original residence. In 1961, the Nantucket Historical Trust bought the Ocean House and completely restored it and its surrounding buildings. It reopened in May of 1963, this time as the Jared Coffin House.
In 1976, Philip and Margaret Read purchased the inn from the Nantucket Historical Trust. The Reads had already leased and managed the inn since 1966. Under the Read’s purview, the basement became The Tap Room, a popular evening gathering place for both locals and tourists that offered an eclectic menu of local specialties and popular pub fare year-round.
In 2004, Nantucket Island Resorts purchased the Jared Coffin House from the Reads. Nantucket Island resorts renovated the hotel in 2006 so that it would fit well into its portfolio of luxury properties. During that time, The Tap Room was closed.
In 2014, Nantucket Prime opened as a seasonal outdoor restaurant focused on prime steaks, seafood, creative cocktails, and wine.
In 2020, in partnership with Nantucket Island Resorts, Nantucket Prime reopened the fully renovated, original Tap Room location under the name The Nantucket Tap Room. It harkens back to the basement billiard room and gentleman’s club of 1857 and the popular tavern of the 1960s.
As a New England Tavern, the Nantucket Tap Room specializes in steak, seafood, and pub favorites in a historical setting. It also offers craft beer, Old and New World wines, and creative cocktails as a renewal of the year-round eating and drinking locale, reestablishing itself as the popular after-work gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Contact us to book a table for any occasion. We accept reservations for up to 20 people.