At Home with Alan Schweikert

Finding a sanctuary, and nature’s bounty, close to town.

Alan Schweikert grew up in the pastoral hill and dale of Chatham, N.J., which also put him near the bright lights of Manhattan. Half country boy, half sophisticate, he was happy to be a hybrid, which is probably a good lesson for a fulfilling life.

A smart and handsome lad, he studied at Boston University and made his way into the executive offices of Brandeis University. And then, in 1974, fate took over in the form of luring the young man to join a development project at Mattakesett, along Edgartown’s southern beach. It was a plum job involving lodging at the glamorous resort, plus a staff car.

Did he fall in love with the Vineyard? this reporter asked him recently. He produced his roguish grin: “I fell in love many times that summer.”

We all know what a first exposure to our Island can do to our future plans, turning them upside down like a martini that’s “shaken, not stirred.” A mid-’70s recession shook him free of the Mattakesett project, but then, back in Boston, he teamed up with Vineyard developer Peter Rosbeck, who put Alan back to work on Edgartown properties.
Still young and freewheeling, Alan also took time off for a trip around the world at the equatorial belt. The spectacular scenery along the way made him realize, “There’s no more beautiful place in creation than Martha’s Vineyard.” He returned to his capacity as Rosbeck’s field operative.

Alan received a sound education in real estate, and in 1979 he opened Ocean Park Realty in a building on Circuit Avenue once run as a junk dealership. From there he skipped across the street, and finally found his present lot at the top of the commercial strip of Circuit, on which he built the neo-Victorian cottage that stands there today, shaded in front by an ancient oak tree.

Fast-forward through marriage, a divorce, two now grown children: Laura, 34, who practices real estate in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Michael, 32, who occupies a front desk by the window in his dad’s office. In these modern times, there is something almost feudal about both of one’s kids following in the father’s trade.
Alan has lived in a few choice homes, all of them with a bird’s-eye view of either Farm Pond or the larger saltwater inlet, Sengekontacket, where the Edgartown border joins up with Oak Bluffs.

At last, the course of his magical wanderings led to Alan’s purchase in 2000 of a fairy-tale lot, also facing Farm Pond at a distance of many lush acres belonging to the Land Bank. Anyone with surrounding Land Bank acreage enjoys a sweetheart deal adjoining wilderness turf that will never see tract homes or strip malls, or even a humble shed.

Alan hired architect Chuck Sullivan to put together the realtor’s dreamscape home of sunlight through high windows and heart-stirring views. The upstairs holds a grand living room of high ceilings, a fir wood floor, a scattering of Persian carpets, and overstuffed sofas and chairs of fabric designed to hold up well.

A dining room is graced with skylights and sliding doors to a wraparound deck that celebrates the view. The large, airy room has gray walls that look pale blue in clear light. At the center is a baronial wooden table with a sprinkling of French country chairs to accommodate up to eight people.

Speaking of company, Alan and his live-in girlfriend, Norwood-bred Marilyn Moses — not only his inamorata but his star agent at Ocean Park — love to entertain. Hardly a week goes by without one or two dinner parties. Alan, who has always loved to cook, continues in this role. “Marilyn works longer hours,” he explains.

The kitchen is large and spare, with an outreach in three directions of black granite counters. Alan’s favorite element, however, is not the kitchen itself, but the rear-entry pantry, replete with more counter space, cabinets, high windows, and a stained glass ornament by Alan’s friend and stained glass artist Lynn Lovely, formerly of Oak Bluffs.
Two bedrooms, including the master, occupy the upstairs, along with a shining white bathroom possessed of a white clawfoot tub in the shape of a giant toboggan. Downstairs contains two more bedrooms, two bathrooms, and another of Alan’s pride and joys, a long closet that puts him in mind of his grammar school cloakroom.

And so we leave the lucky pair, Alan and Marilyn, in their 3,000-plus-square-foot cottage with a distant glimpse beyond Farm Pond of the sea. If this were a sunny day — which it most likely is not, given our frigid spring — Alan might be barbecuing steaks on the deck before whipping up a salad of organic greens from Morning Glory Farm. At their bedside tables, Alan’s reading is this week’s New Yorker, Marilyn’s “That Camden Summer” by LaVyrle Spencer.

Good night, sweet house, goodnight, Farm Pond, and goodnight, happy couples everywhere.