In the 18th
century, a number of free blacks bought lots on the West Monomy shores,
near the Old Mill. Once known as Newtown, the area around Five Corners
(see Site 8) became known by 1820 as New Guinea, indicating the African
roots of the property owners. (The label “New Guinea” was
used in numerous cities and towns to designate the section in which people
of color resided.)
In 1994, Preservation
Institute: Nantucket established the rough modern geographic boundaries
for New Guinea to be Silver and Orange Streets, Williams Lane, and Prospect
and Angola Streets, although in the nineteenth century the area probably
extended further west to include the cemetery. An 1834 map names Atlantic
Avenue as New Guinea.
During the nineteenth century, New Guinea was a separate community,
conscious of its own identity and needs. There were two churches, inns,
shops, and social organizations.