Over twenty years ago, the Town of Nantucket conducted a needs assessment of the Nantucket Community. Second only to affordable housing was the need for affordable childcare.
Upon hearing this report, the late Bernie Grossman was deeply concerned about the effect a lack of childcare might have on Nantucket’s economy. Bernie and veteran early childhood educator Anne Bradt sketched out what would be needed to develop a year-round, full day, affordable early education and care center.
With the business community providing initial funds, Mrs. Bradt assumed the role of Program Director and Rev. Tom Richard of the Congregational Church provided a temporary home for the new center. A dedicated Board of Directors hired Ann Lamaitre as their head teacher and implemented a program to train young mothers to work at Small Friends as teaching assistants.
In May of 1988 Small Friends opened its doors to 18 students aged 6 months to 2 ½ years. With an expanded teaching staff Small Friends was able to accept 30 children the following year. Through a generous lease from the Nantucket Cottage Hospital part of the old middle school was moved to space behind the hospital. This location plus leased space from the Nantucket Housing Authority was, for many years, the home for Small Friends.
A thoughtful Board of Directors purchased a two-acre parcel of land from the Nantucket Land Bank and moved another building to the site. Thus began the initial journey to the Nobadeer Farm Road campus.
In 2006 Small Friends began its capital campaign to construct a new building to accommodate all our children together. The goal was to provide a well designed, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building.
The board hired Steven Blashfield of Chip Webster and Associates to design the new building and construction began in late 2007. On September 8, 2008 Small Friends welcomed children and families to their first day in our beautiful new building.
We soon received word that our determined efforts to design and build a truly exceptional facility received distinguished recognition. We were awarded the LEED Gold Certification, the first such award given to a newly constructed early education and care facility in the United States.