Nantucket's Atheneum (the public library) has served the island community for almost 200 years. The former library—which was destroyed in the great fire of 1846—hosted speakers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, and native Nantucketer Lucretia Coffin Mott.
The newer edition, which was built in 1847, still serves as the intellectual center of the island, regularly hosting classes, children's programs, and lectures from distinguished guests. It's not uncommon for visiting intellectuals and authors to give talks here while on vacation—before heading to the island, check out the Atheneum schedule to see if any events interest you. Either way, it's worth taking a peek at this Greek revival building and its Great Hall on the second floor.