The White House late Wednesday confirmed that President Obama and his family will return to Martha’s Vineyard for two weeks of vacation in August.
“On Saturday, August 9th, the President and the First Lady will travel to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts,” a White House official said on background. “They will remain there until Sunday, August 24th, when they will return to Washington, D.C. There are no public events scheduled at this time and further details on travel will be released when they are available.”
The president is expected to return to Chilmark, the town that is clearly their favored vacation spot on Martha’s Vineyard. The family will stay in a secluded house off North Road that overlooks the north shore and Vineyard Sound, according to property owners familiar with the elaborate security preparations that precede a presidential visit.
Though not confirmed by the White House, the Obamas are expected to stay at the home of Joanne Hubschman at 72 Gosnold’s Way off Prospect Hill Road, said neighbors and Prospect Hill residents, some of whom requested anonymity because Ms. Hubschman told them on condition of secrecy. The seven-bedroom, nine-bath, 8,100-square-foot house, sits on a 10-acre lot and is assessed at more than $12 million. It features 17 rooms in total, expansive water views of Vineyard Sound, an infinity pool and hot tub, and a dual tennis-basketball court.
“She told us it was a secret, but I guess the secret’s out,” Lillian Kellman, a neighbor, said in a conversation with The Times at the front door of her home. “The whole Island probably knows by now. My husband will remember when we first heard it.”
Ray Kellman, Ms. Kellman’s husband, was cutting zucchini in the kitchen. He paused in his kitchen chores to retell his story.
“We first heard about it when a friend of ours said, ‘I hear the Obamas are staying on your road this summer,’ a few weeks ago, before we’d heard anything about it,” Mr. Kellman said. “Then the real estate guy, Tom Wallace, called us. He explained that Obama would be here and that they were coming to stay nearby, and that they appreciated our help, since they wanted to keep a communications vehicle — no one will be in it — at our house, powered with electricity from our garage. Wallace came by, he looked around, took some pictures looking for the best spot for the vehicle. I thought that there are too many trees around here, but Wallace said the vehicle has an antenna that can go up 150 feet, above the treeline.”
A visit by a Times reporter to 72 Gosnold’s Way brought Ms. Hubschman to the door. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said, smiling. “I’ve heard nothing about that.”
Real estate agent Tom Wallace of Wallace & Co. in Edgartown has handled housing arrangements for the Obamas during previous Island visits.
In a telephone conversation with The Times late Wednesday, Mr. Wallace would not confirm any visits to Gosnold’s Way, but he did confirm his involvement again this year in helping to find a vacation retreat. “As you can imagine, there are security concerns, so I can’t confirm any locations,” he said. “Each year we choose three viable options, and we have not executed a final decision for this year.”
Asked what he looks for when seeking properties for the President’s visit, Mr. Wallace said, “A basketball court is great, a swimming pool is nice, privacy is obviously important.”
The Prospect Hill Association is scheduled to hold a meeting at 9 am, Saturday morning where residents of the exclusive subdivision are expected to learn more about checkpoints, the screening process, and whether or not there will be a list of names of people approved to enter Prospect Hill during the first family’s stay, according to one member of the association who asked not to be identified. The Hubschman property is not part of Prospect Hill, but its access runs through the subdivision.
Agents for the Obamas originally inquired about renting the home of Frank V. Sica at 60 Prospect Hill Road, which also has a pool, vast water views and access to the Prospect Hill Association’s tennis courts. They ultimately decided to look at the next road over, Gosnold’s Way.
Ms. Hubschman makes her home in Greenwich, Conn., and had four children with her husband of more than 25 years, Henry Hubschman, who had a distinguished career in law, government and business until his death in 2011, according to his obituary. He was president and CEO of General Electric’s Aviation Services and Infrastructure divisions, which grew from assets of $10 billion to $49 billion under his leadership. “He took special pleasure in hosting friends and family at their summer home on Martha’s Vineyard,” read his obituary in the Washington Post.
Word of a repeat presidential visit began circulating around the Island in March. The president brings a large entourage of Secret Service agents, White House staffers, and support personnel, and the White House began arranging for lodging this spring, according to sources.
Mr. Obama and his family have vacationed on the Island every year since his 2008 election, with the exception of 2012, when he was campaigning for re-election.
In 2009, 2010, and 2011, the first family rented Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, a 28.5-acre secluded compound on Tisbury Great Pond. The house was sold in December 2011 to architect Lord Norman Foster and his wife, Lady Elena Foster, of Thames Bank in Great Britain under the name of a holding corporation.
Last year, the first family also stayed in Chilmark, renting a 5,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house valued at $7.6 million just a short distance off South Road. Owned by David M. Schulte, the home has an attached, two-bedroom guesthouse, small basketball court, and water views. That visit necessitated the closure of South Road, much to the irritation of many local residents and Chilmark selectman Warren Doty. No road closures are anticipated this trip.
Past presidential vacation activities have included golf, more golf, bike trips with the family, hikes, and dinner with friends.