Norton-Coffin House // c.1740

This home on the idyllic Water Street in Edgartown (maybe my favorite town in Massachusetts) was built in two main phases in its storied history. What is now a rear ell, was built as a home around 1740 by “Squire” Norton, who ran the Customs office out of the house in his role as Customs Collector in town. The home was located in the current location of North Water Street, which had to jog around the home until the early 19th century when it was moved to the current location and altered as an ell of the new house standing there. The home was later owned by Captain Edward Coffin (1850-1917), a renowned sea captain. At just 15 years old, Edwin Coffin left Edgartown to be a cabin boy on his first ship. Through the end of the 19th century, he voyaged on numerous whaling vessels and served as captain on many. In 1902, Captain Coffin was chosen to command the steamer America, which carried the Fiala-Ziegler Expedition, a failed attempt at reaching the North Pole. The party remained stranded north of the Arctic Circle for two years before being rescued, yet all but one of its members survived.

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