In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the landmark White Elephant Nantucket, the owner, White Elephant Resorts, has engaged Elkus Manfredi Architects to design a top-to-bottom transformation and renovation of the iconic hotel.
This is the second time White Elephant Resorts has worked with Elkus Manfredi, the first being the design firm’s multi-award winning renovation of White Elephant Palm Beach.
The anticipated transformation of White Elephant Nantucket will create a bright, airy, residential feel that draws inspiration from Nantucket—its history, the quality of its natural light, its landscape—to breathe new life into the historic buildings and immerse guests in an authentic Nantucket vacation experience.
“Our intention with the redesign is to deliver the feeling of deep relaxation that comes with opening a window, looking out to the sea, and taking a deep breath of fresh air, feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, smelling the salt air, boats softly rocking in their slips and the hum of children laughing on the beach. We want all the senses to be engaged and excited,” says Elizabeth Lowrey, Principal at Elkus Manfredi Architects.
Originally opened in the 1920s, White Elephant Nantucket began as a series of rustic lodges and has evolved into one of Nantucket’s most popular resort destinations. Elkus Manfredi is designing a complete renovation of the 54-room and -suite hotel and its 11 cottages. A redesigned lobby will set the tone for relaxed elegance, and the entire hotel will be filled with details that honor the colors, textures, and artistic legacy of the island, from the basket weave carpet design, to grass cloth wall coverings that evoke the dune grasses, to ceilings painted to match the color of a Nantucket summer sky. Signature touches like brass elephant knockers, elephant door and drawer pulls, and elephant needlepoint pillows will maintain the iconic brand. In recognition of Nantucket’s rich history of basket weaving and textile production, Elkus Manfredi is working with Bloomsburg, a family-run carpet mill based in Pennsylvania that is creating custom carpets inspired by the New England island’s iconic basket weave design.
All 11 cottages will be renovated and given individual themes inspired by native plants of Nantucket— Bayberry, Hydrangea, Daylily, Beachplum, Honeysuckle, Holly, Arrowwood, Marigold, Rose, and Snapdragon. Elkus Manfredi has developed a unique color palette for each cottage—buttery yellow for Honeysuckle, pale lavender for Beachplum, and pale pink for Rose—and introduced artwork inspired by the plants each cottage is named for. The design team wanted it to feel as charming as being invited into the home of a long-time Nantucket resident who is always thinking of ways to freshen up the guest rooms.
A key element in the redesign is the development of an Artist-in-Residency program to source new locally inspired original art that will be placed throughout the hotel. This specially curated and commissioned collection is an Elkus Manfredi initiative with White Elephant Resorts and art consultant and curator, Emily Santangelo, who also collaborated with Elkus Manfredi on White Elephant Palm Beach. The new Artist-in-Residency program provides selected artists from around the world with travel expenses, meal allowances, accommodations, and everything they need to gather inspiration and source material to create new works for the collection. Artists chosen for the initial program include painters Renee Levin from New Jersey and Greta Van Campen from Maine, Pennsylvania-based photographer and installation artist Thomas Jackson, Swedish artist Clara Hallencruetz from Stockholm, and New England-focused watercolorist Mary Chandler from Connecticut.
The transformation and renovation of White Elephant Nantucket is ongoing and will be complete in time for the Spring 2023 travel season.