This was then: The men who built “Hedge Lee.”

Photos of long-ago Martha’s Vineyard.

Photo courtesy of Chris Baer

Overlooking Vineyard Haven Harbor stands “Hedge Lee” — an enormous Italian villa with a red tiled roof and white stucco façade, associated in recent memory with the family of writer John Hersey. You know the one.

It was built in 1903-04 as a “country place” for millionaire Charles Elmore Whitney of Boston, heir to the Hollingsworth & Whitney paper company. The expansive waterfront property included a carriage house and a collection of large bronze nude figures in the garden, to the amusement of the local kids, who regularly explored the grounds off-season. The Whitney family summered here for decades, employing a staff of butlers, coachmen, and grooms. The architect, J. Williams Beal of Boston, went on to design another beautiful but slightly out-of-place building a couple of years later: Martha’s Vineyard National’s downtown fieldstone bank (now Santander).

We have some of the names, but not all. Readers are encouraged to let us know ( if you can identify those we have missed.

Back row (L-to-R): Bert Tilton, Millard Hunter, William G. Manter (general contractor, in bowler), J. Williams Beal (architect, in bowler), Ben Williams, Horace Vincent.

Third row: John Luce, Jim Fuller, Henry Fisher, Elmer West, Walter Norton, George Hillman.

Second row: Jim Lynch, ?, ?, E.T. Walker, Gil West, Capt. John Reynolds, Jim Norton, Charles Mosher, Tom Mosher, Elmer West Jr., Cyrus Norton, ?.

First row: Henry Swift, Abner Mayhew, ?, ?, Ben Warren, Shubael Vincent, Hiram Poole, Walter Vincent, Harry Weeks, Dennis Partridge, Jerry Stevens, Manuel deBettencourt, Teb Tilton.

Sitting: Charles Call, George Walker, John Lynch, Lester Bumpus, John Isaacs.

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.