CT National Historic Landmark # 53
Captain Nathaniel Palmer House
40 Palmer Street, Stonington (Museum)
Since the Palmer house is a full-fledge museum, and since I have had the pleasure of visiting it, this NHL page will be somewhat truncated. After all, you certainly should want to read about Palmer’s whole story and MY story of my visit rather than just this little page about his house being a historic landmark. If you’re dumb like me, you weren’t aware of Captain Palmer’s place in history. Of course, I know of at least one person who is fully aware of Palmer’s exploits and has some strong opinions about his vocation of seal hunting.
People. This was 1820 we’re talking about. Seal hunting was a viable trade and in those times, certainly not seen as cruel. Anyway…
The Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer House is a historic house in Stonington, Connecticut that was the home of Nathaniel Brown Palmer (1799–1877). Palmer, like I said, was a seal hunter and a pioneering Antarctic explorer. The house is a transitional style between the Greek revival and the Victorian Italianate and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1996. It’s a nice house, I must admit. For a house from that period, it’s one of the rare ones I’d actually be happy to live in. But again, you can learn more about the house when you click over to the museum page about it.
For now, a little more about Palmer himself to get you excited to learn more:
During the 1810s the skins of Antarctic Ocean seals were highly valued as items for trade with China. As a skilled and fearless seal hunter, Palmer achieved his first command at the early age of 21. His vessel, a diminutive sloop named the Hero, was only 47 feet in length. Palmer steered southward in the Hero at the beginning of the Antarctic summer of 1820–1821. Aggressively searching for new seal rookeries south of Cape Horn, on 17 November 1820, Palmer and his men became the first Americans and the third group of people to discover the Antarctic Peninsula. Larger ships skippered by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Edward Bransfield had reported sighting land earlier in 1820. Along with English sealer George Powell, Palmer also co-discovered the nearby South Orkney Islands archipelago.
There’sa bunch of other stuff down there named for Palmer and his sloop. Heck, there’s even something on Mercury named for his sloop.
Palmer was a pretty incredible guy and I’m very glad his house is a National Historic Landmark. And I”m especially glad we can all visit it.