*Updated Sept. 14
This is a series I’ve been meaning to start for a while. I’ve lived on the Island for just over two years, and do my best to soak in its beauty as much as I can. Aside from shoreline vistas and sprawling ocean horizons, there’s one thing that’s constantly stopping me in my tracks — Vineyard homes.
I don’t know if it’s the mystery of its inhabitants, the shameless envy, or my unjustifiable confidence in someday winning the lottery, there’s something in me that wants to knock on these doors and see what happens. That, of course, is trespassing, and in my six or so years of studying journalism, I’ve learned to write the news, not be the news. So, I found a different approach — the friends-of-friends technique that makes this Island work so preeminently well.
Megan Weeks is an interior designer from Boston. She’s been coming to Martha’s Vineyard since the late 1980s. She’s spent the past three summers living in a large white gambrel with bright blue shutters on Edgartown Harbor. And I mean right on Edgartown Harbor. The view is spectacular.
“All that activity on the harbor is just visual,” Weeks said, as she took me on a tour of the property. It’s true — for something so close to town and in the midst of everyday summer action, you sit out back and what do you hear? Rustling marsh. Frogs. Bugs. Birds.
Weeks isn’t the owner of this house, so that part’s still a mystery, but she did let me inside and shared a wealth of information about its history.
The house was built in the 1930s, during the height of the Great Depression. Builders broke ground in February and the house was fully occupied by June. It took about 16 weeks. The original owners, the Erdman family, owned the house for many generations. They named it Chapeda, after the four oldest sons: Charlie, Harold, Peter, and David. The youngest son, Michael, is in his 80s, and still visits the Island from time to time. We can presume the house was named before Michael was born. The Erdman family sold the house in 2015. With its new owners, Chapeda took on a new identity: Tower Hill.
“The house was and is super loved,” Weeks said. “But the new owners are ready for some updates.”
That’s where Weeks comes into the story. Weeks is an interior designer, and her company, M Weeks Design, has been commissioned to work on many Vineyard homes. In February 2018, the Tower Hill owners asked her to take on their harborfront spot. The mandate? Lighten, brighten, and clean up.
Weeks showed me some ‘before’ shots of Tower Hill’s interior design. Each room was heavily wallpapered, had dark, orangey wood floors, frilly curtains, and dated furniture. Charming, of course, but ready for renos.
“I call this a lipstick renovation,” Weeks said. “Nothing structural. Subtle updates that retain its old world elements.”
We started in the kitchen. It’s an open space that lets in a lot of light. The walls are painted a soft white, and the floors are finished with reclaimed oak and hickory wood. There’s brand new appliances, hardware, sinks, and light fixtures. She kept the cabinets the same with their old-fashioned, farm-style aesthetic, but they do have a fresh coat of paint.
Weeks emphasized that renovations are still in progress. She’s yet to add the finishing touches like wall art, rugs, and new window fixtures — but the place is certainly coming along.
On to the dining room. It has freshly painted white walls and light grey floors. Open windows line the room and look out to the property’s large backyard and ocean views. Weeks kept a lot of the same furniture, like the tables, chairs, and dressers, but updated them with a coat of pale blue chalk paint.
“We’ve had tons of fun repurposing what’s here,” Weeks said. “There’s some quality, gorgeous furniture that just needs some updating and love.”
The living room has a couple of new chairs and furniture, and a fresh coat of paint. It has a large window that takes up most of the back wall.
“And this view,” Weeks said. “You just can’t beat it. It’s mesmerizing.”
Each of the eight upstairs bedrooms have names: Grandma’s room, Grandpa’s room, Dad’s room, Mom’s room, the Katama room, towel room, and end room. This was an element kept from the early Erdman days.
Grandma’s room is unmistakably the master bedroom. Two large windows look out over Edgartown Harbor, and double doors beside the bed open up to an outside porch. The walls and floors were repainted, and the ceiling is a pale blue you hardly notice. Weeks repurposed two old dressers, and updated the room with new lamps, mirrors, and light fixtures. Again, windows, end tables, rugs, and wall art are all on the way.
The rest of the bedrooms are a bit smaller, but freshly painted and open up to a lot of light. Weeks spent another few hours repurposing wooden bed frames and dressers with that ever-so-handy chalk paint.
The downstairs bathroom walls were brightened with subtle wallpaper that has a striped blue pattern. A mirror hangs above the sink by rope Weeks picked up at the local shipyard. The floors are linoleum, but today’s linoleum, Weeks emphasized. They’re soft underfoot, and apparently both economically and ecologically friendly.
If you ask me, the best part of Tower Hill is the backyard, and it begins with a line of six white adirondack chairs facing the front of the harbor. They’re the kind of chairs you could sit in all day. But the yard only gets better, so maybe you wouldn’t want to. Weeks led me down some narrow wooden steps to a private beach at the bottom of the property. It’s a sizable space with two boat houses — one for storage, and the other under construction to be a sitting space with a kitchenette. A wood plank placed over the sand leads you out to a long private dock large enough to host a fleet. Weeks said she and her family sometimes sit down there for dinner — I know I would.
So there you have it — Tower Hill: An eight-bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom home steeped in history, right on Edgartown Harbor. So thanks, Megan, for letting us take a peek. Who’s next?
Let us know if there’s a home on Martha’s Vineyard you’re curious about. We’ll see if we can make the connection and take a peek. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated to correct Harold Erdman’s name.