Building on Boch property comes on down

A front-end excavator made short work of the teetering Entwistle building on the Boch lot Wednesday morning.

A front-end excavator rips into the second floor of the derelict Entwistle building in Vineyard Haven Wednesday morning. — Sam Moore

For decades, the weathered Entwistle building on the Boch lot overlooking Vineyard Haven Harbor withstood years of storms and neglect. Wednesday morning it fell to a deft hand at the controls of a front-end loader.

“It’s about time,” said one passerby.

Last week, seasonal Edgartown resident, philanthropist, and auto magnate Ernie Boch Jr. told The Times he would demolish the long-derelict building on the vacant lot he owns at 20 Beach Road in Tisbury, adjacent to Five Corners, and create a park: “I’ll go for whatever permits I need; I’ll need to add irrigation; and I’m talking to landscape architects. I just want to do a little beautification.”

The three-quarter-acre lot and beach, known as the “Boch lot,” occupies a prime harborfront spot overlooking Vineyard Haven Harbor between the Black Dog wharf and Gannon & Benjamin shipyard. Mr. Boch said he would be happy to see the building, the remnants of the Hancock Hardware and Builder’s Co., removed. “It’s an eyesore,” he said. “The second I got the property I wanted to take it down.”

Keith Olsen of Richard T. Olsen and Son excavators began at the rear of the building. With each loud crunch the building shook. The chimney was a concern. Following a brief survey and discussion, Mr. Olsen told Tisbury building inspector Ken Barwick, “I think I’ve got it figured out.”

And he did. The chimney fell neatly into a hole in the center of the building.

With an adjacent building and Beach Road to worry about, Mr. Olsen said safety was a primary concern. “We’ll get it, we’ll get it,” he said. “I just have to take all precautions.”

Those precautions included shutting off electrical power to the building, something Mr. Barwick said he thought had already been done. Eversource arrived, and work proceeded.

By late morning the building had been reduced to rubble.

Mr. Boch’s father, Ernie Boch Sr., purchased the property in 1987 for $600,000, and created a valet parking lot that immediately landed him in hot water with the town of Tisbury, and initiated a long regulatory battle and lawsuit.

Since then, the valuable piece of property has sat mostly unused. A part of the property lies in the commercial district, and could be developed into retail, office space, or housing. But some of the lot lies in the waterfront district, and is restricted to marine use under current zoning.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the operator of the front-end loader as Richard Olsen. The skilled operator was Keith Olsen.