The rundown and neglected house at 29 Franklin St. was reduced to dust and debris Monday afternoon in Vineyard Haven. Co-owner Bill Westman, who bought the house with Cees Van Eijk in 2016 for $335,000, oversaw the demolition as an excavator bulldozed the rickety structure, and neighbors and passersby stopped to watch the spectacle.
The foundation wasn’t sound, and with the coming snowstorm, Westman said he decided early Monday morning to get the demolition over with before the heavy snow caused any more problems.
The house, which has been an eyesore on Franklin Street for many years, wasn’t salvageable, said Westman, who has restored antique properties in the past. “Eighty percent would have had to be replaced,” Westman said.
In a report to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC), in order to obtain the demolition permit, Westman described the house’s condition. The property had many obvious superficial and foundation problems, he wrote: The cedar shakes and siding were rotted, trim was missing, windows, doors, shutters, and gutters all needed to be replaced, and a “structure on the left side of the house had rotted and fallen off the house completely,” Westman wrote in his report. Mold and lead paint were also prevalent.
Westman and Van Eijk bought the house two years ago from Doug Look, the original owner. The house was Doug Look’s family home, and was built in 1856. A Centre Street neighbor said he and his family were friends with the Looks growing up, and said Doug Look became blind late in life due to glaucoma, and was unable to care for the house.
“This house was not even close to being built correctly,” Westman told the Times. Westman says he plans to rebuild the house and keep its same design, while adding some updates as well: “I bought it to save it; it just wasn’t savable.”