Stop & Shop has resurrected plans to renovate its Vineyard Haven store. The first thing on the grocery chain’s to-do list is removal of the Caleb Prouty House, according to Stop & Shop attorney Geoghan Coogan.
The Caleb Prouty House is a vacant antique home at 15 Cromwell Lane. Coogan filed a demolition application with the Tisbury Building Department on behalf of Shop & Shop and its contractor David Moniz on April 22.
Coogan told The Times he has searched without luck for somebody who would dismantle and salvage the Caleb Prouty House.
“None of the parties that had interest were able to pull it off,” he said. Recently, he added, someone was under contract to disassemble it and move it, but they didn’t follow through.
He stressed Stop & Shop is willing to consider any reasonable proposals to deconstruct and salvage the house. “We’re open to anything,” he said. For now, the demolition is on hold, he added.
Stop & Shop spokesperson Jennifer Brogan acknowledged the fate of the house isn’t certain yet. “We can confirm that Stop & Shop did file for a demolition permit,” she emailed, “however, we have not yet finalized plans for the house or its architectural components at this time.”
What the procedure will be going forward will be decided by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, Coogan said, as the matter has been sent to them.
The commission confirmed the Caleb Prouty House has been referred. MVC executive director Adam Turner told The Times the potential demolition of the building falls within a development of regional impact (DRI). Asked if he and the commission will scrutinize the Caleb Prouty House with greater intensity than normal in light of the demolition of the Mill House, Turner said no, and pointed out an adequate process is already in place, one the MVC didn’t get to exercise in the case of the Mill House.
Stop & Shop sought to demolish the Caleb Prouty House more than five years ago, and wound up coming before the MVC in a DRI review. The MVC tapped Public Archaeology Laboratory (PAL) to conduct a “complete archaeological sensitivity assessment” of the property in 2013, as the introduction to a 14-page report notes.
PAL senior archaeologist Kathleen Miller and PAL senior architectural historian Virginia Adams described the house as “an excellent local example of moderately high-style Greek Revival style residence constructed or remodeled between 1844 and 1851 in Tisbury, retaining both a well-preserved exterior and an almost pristine interior.”
Elsewhere in the report, Miller, Adams, and other authors noted a fire destroyed most buildings in the vicinity in 1883, making the house “a rare surviving standing building in the area.”
The authors of the PAL report judged the property to be “archaeologically sensitive for both ancient Native American and post-contact/historic period archaeological resources. PAL recommends that if any ground disturbing activities are proposed for the parcel, the MVC consult with [the Massachusetts Historical Commission] to develop an appropriate scope of work for archaeological investigations which would likely consist of an intensive (locational) archaeological survey.”
The Tisbury Historic Commission toured the Caleb Prouty House when the MVC reviewed Stop & Shop’s previous bid to remodel, Harold W. Chapdelaine, chairman of both the Tisbury Historic Commission and the Williams Street Historic District Commission, wrote in an email to The Times.
“My memory of the house is the interior was mostly original with stairs, doors, window and door trim in very good condition,” he wrote. “One can only wonder how it has been maintained and whether those elements have been respected and preserved. The house is outside of the bylaw-managed William Street Historic District. As such the judgment of its historical significance begins with a referral to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.”
Like the PAL report authors, Chapdelaine went on to point out the house dodged incineration.
“Being the house is one of the few buildings that survived the Great Fire of 1883, the [Tisbury Historic Commission] would welcome the opportunity to [work] with Stop & Shop and the MVC to preserve this building.”
Come what may with the Caleb Prouty House, Coogan said, Stop & Shop is presently considering shrinking the size of the Vineyard Haven store and adding a housing component. Whatever the final plans turn out to be, he said the work is not far off.
“It’s a sooner, rather than later, endeavor,” he said.