Real Estate Confidential is a weekly chitchat about new listings, sales, or other insider info on the Martha’s Vineyard real estate market, by Fred Roven, Martha’s Vineyard Buyer Agents. It appears each Friday in The Minute.
There was a time when the Vineyard shoreline, particularly up-Island, was dotted with hundreds of modest beach cottages. Many were unheated and most accurately described as camps. Most had running water and some had indoor plumbing. They were about escaping from the city and not bringing along any of the city pressures. People came to get away — to fish, to hike, or just sit at the water’s edge. That time was all about simplicity, gathering with friends and neighbors, and enjoying a breath of fresh air. Many antique luxury homes sit back from the waters edge, high on hills, leaving those water side cottages as they have been for 100 years open to your imagination.
For many buyers on the Vineyard, the goal of owning a beach cottage is to maintain the old while cautiously adding modern conveniences. Even keeping the interior with studded walls by insulating from the outside and shingling over the insulation. Unlike the original meaning of the term cottage — a small cozy dwelling in a rural setting often inhabited by peasants — today it can be associated with larger homes. Charm rather than size is the defining factor with cottages being used as holiday homes but retaining their countryside locations.
My first home was a 100-year-old converted harness shop that contained many of the attributes I include in the description of a cottage. I look for a beach stone fireplace, waterviews, a cool breeze, studded walls, cedar shingles and often with bunk space created from formerly unused attic space. Even with renovation and modernization, cottages are designed to be rustic, with features like plank floors, exposed beams and hand-carved woodwork. While many cottages will need remodeled kitchens and bathrooms, the goal in renovation should be to preserve the existing architecture and rediscover its original glory.
Although many are gone now having been lost to the rush to bigger and better, if you search and are patient, you will find a Summer of ‘42 cottage perfect for you. Cottages are a great way to bring the country to the city while still offering modern comforts. If charm rather than size is your preference, consider buying — and restoring or renovating — a cottage style home.
A few descriptions of available waterfront cottages follow and the best way to appreciate a classic Vineyard vintage home (next to walking in the front door) is to view the slides of currently available properties. Most are waterfront; some have their own dock but primarily you will know the cottage right for you when you walk in the front door and feel your life slowing down.
For the buyer who can appreciate the pure joy of living in town and harborfront with access to a boat slip, 109 North Water Street in Edgartown has no equal. There are views of the lighthouse, an existing 2-bedroom boathouse at the sandy shoreline, a fireplace for cool nights and yet it’s just steps to downtown. If bigger (and better?) is your preference, plenty of room remains to build a new home among the historic homes of Edgartown.
One of my favorites is not truly waterfront but across the road, there’s a staircase your shared beach, and at $839,000, nothing comes close in value. The classic Vineyard Cape at 50 Pine Tree Lane on the Vineyard Haven outer harbor is in a serene neighborhood, yet a few blocks to town. The home features 4 bedrooms and 2 baths and offers a wonderful mix of the best of the Vineyard — location, charm, water acess, gardens, and an easy walk to shops, galleries and restaurants.
Surprisingly, there is another waterfront Vineyard cottage priced under $1 million right now. For me, although only 682 SF, the 2-bedroom cottage overlooking the Lagoon at 109 Barnes Road, had the feeling you should get when you walk into a little piece of serenity. It felt like the world just slowed down. I walked into a small, comfortable space overlooking the Lagoon with views out to Vineyard Sound and spectacular sunsets. Vintage Vineyard at its best with stairs down to your beach and, as with most cottages, a fireplace.
For the sailor who wants to live in a space that replicates the sense of being on the ocean, 311 East Chop Drive has it all. There are extraordinary views of the ocean from every room and a constant ocean breeze with Crystal Lake behind you. The property features a 120’ ft deep water dock, a mooring, and a sandy-pebbled beach. You can watch the sun rise from your antique tub and then watch it set from the patio or master suite.
Are you convinced a cottage is right for you? All properties and more can be viewed at Vintage Vineyard Cottages.
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