White Heron Theatre Property In Downtown Nantucket On The Market For $13 Million

Jason Graziadei •


White Heron Theatre, the 150-seat performing arts venue in downtown Nantucket that opened in 2016, was listed for sale Monday for nearly $13 million, and the future of the theater company is uncertain.

The property at 5 North Water Street has been owned by White Heron Theatre founder Lynne Bolton since December 2012, when she and her husband Roger acquired the lot from the late Flint Ranney for $2.5 million.

The White Heron Theatre Company is operated as a non-profit organization separate from Nantucket Theatre Project, the limited liability company that owns the property. Both are controlled by Lynne and Roger Bolton.

"I initially bought the property at 5 North Water Street with the intention of selling it to the theatre company, which would raise the funds to purchase the property and allow us to deliver value to the community," Bolton said in a statement to the Current. "During the 12 years since the property was purchased, the theatre company management and Board of Directors of White Heron have not succeeded in raising the money to purchase the property. I have reluctantly concluded that I cannot continue to support the property on my own and therefore have decided to put it on the market for sale."

Since 2012 when the theater company relocated to Nantucket from New York, it has been run by Bolton along with producing director and co-artistic director Michael Kopko. The pair met after Bolton directed Kopko's daughter in a local production years ago.

Bolton called the founding of the theater company and establishing it on Nantucket "the culmination of the dream of a lifetime."

The sale of the theater property had been rumored for several months, as White Heron Theatre had not released a 2024 lineup as it typically would in April or May. Last Friday, the theater company announced a scaled-back program for the summer, which did not include any major theatrical productions similar to those that it hosted in prior years. Instead, the theatre will host a play reading series, a student production company, comedy shows, as well as events for the Nantucket Film Festival and Nantucket Comedy Festival.

Kopko said there had been talks with several individuals and groups interested in buying and preserving the theater in its current form, but they were unable to put the necessary funding together, leading to the property being listed publicly today.

"White Heron will continue to produce theatre this summer and, we hope and expect, into the future," Bolton said. "I hope that the theatre will be bought by someone who would like to keep White Heron here on this island as a center for transformative theatrical experiences for members of our community."

The property, listed by Lee Real Estate for $12.9 million,  includes the 7,186 square-foot theatre, along with a 1,315 square-foot single-family home that White Heron had used for housing for its production staff. 

Bethany Oliver, the executive director of the Theatre Workshop of Nantucket, which operates out of the nearby Bennett Hall at the Congregational Church on Centre Street, declined to comment as to whether her organization had any interest in the White Heron property.

The property at 5 North Water Street is located behind the Nantucket Historical Association's Whaling Museum.

Originally founded in New York City in 2004 by Bolton and Yale School of Drama acting dean Earle Gister, White Heron Theatre Company was "reborn" on Nantucket in 2012 following the Boltons' acquisition of the downtown property. For two summers, the theatre company hosted performances under a large, temporary tent at the site while the venue was under construction. Three years later, the $7 million facility was opened as "the first purpose-built venue on the island dedicated to professional repertory theater."

Over the past eight years, White Heron's production highlights include "God of Carnage" by Yesmina Reza, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" by Christopher Durang, "Seawife" by Seth Moore, and "The Lobbyists, and Private Lives" by Noël Coward.

Although the White Heron has not been able to raise the funds Bolton had hoped through its programming, she described its last season as its most successful year to date in terms of the quality of performances and audience support. The theater had previously received awards from The National Endowment for the Arts and The Shubert Foundation, and the company's operational financial performance had "consistently has been in the black (with the exception of the Covid years) and is in a positive economic position now," Bolton said.

"There is an opportunity for philanthropy here in the form of a gift to the island from someone who would like to keep the White Heron Theatre as a performing arts venue on Nantucket for many years to come," Bolton said.

As for the future of the theater company, Kopko told the Current Monday morning "That's still an open question. Lynne and I built the company and the property from scratch. It was a lot of work. For the first eight or nine years, it was just the two of us running it. It was pretty exhaustive but also very rewarding... If someone came in and said we want to buy the theater and keep the theater going, we’d find a way to do that."

Kopko said the past 12 years with White Heron have been some of the most fulfilling of his life, and the realization of a long-held goal.

"The whole thing has been a dream," Kopko said. "This is what I trained to do when I was a young man. It was always a dream and I remember walking on the 'Sconset Bluff walk and envisioning standing on a stage and cutting the ribbon on a purpose-built theater and it happened. I’m one of the luckiest people I know."

1500x1000 2
Origin 1
Loading Ad
Loading Ad
Loading Ad

Current News