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Real Estate Confidential is a weekly chit-chat about new listings, sales, or other insider info on the Martha’s Vineyard Real Estate market, presented by Fred Roven, owner/broker of Martha’s Vineyard Buyer Agents. It appears each Friday in The Minute.

Thursday was the first cool fall day, so of course my thoughts went to the joy of a fireplace for those cool Vineyard nights. You have enjoyed a day at the beach, kayaking a great pond, or hiking a conservation trail, and a relaxing evening in front of a fireplace — especially in an unheated summer home — is the ultimate for relaxing or cozying up with two or four-legged friends. Of course there was a time when a fireplace was much more of a necessity than an amenity with occasional practicality. 

There are many homes on the Vineyard that have been maintained and updated for literally centuries that tell a story of Vineyard history and each in its own very particular way. Many antique homes that did not have any kind of central heating (think: no electricity) were with fireplaces and certainly had to have multiple fireplaces on, at least, the first level. And they cover the entire Island. There is an enclave of homes at Cedar Tree Neck built by members of the Mayhew clan in the early eighteenth century. They began as small, low-ceilinged farm houses with brick cooking ovens and expanded over the early years with fireplaces added as they grew. They are now surrounded by one of the most pristine waterfronts and conservation trails on the Island.

Early non-native settlers moved on to building “luxury” full Capes in the early nineteenth century and quickly moved on the Greek Revivals in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown mid-century, as the wealth brought by the whaling industry came to the Island. As we entered the twentieth century and summer vacation living came to the Vineyard, expanded multi-level cottages were built close to the water’s

edge, many with second floor balconies to take in the views. By the next mid-century, large farms were subdivided and those early expanded Capes were still built with multiple fireplaces, a true connection to the past.

One of the most dramatic is the well maintained and restored Captain Henry Pease II Greek Revival at 74 North Water Street in Edgartown. Most of the home’s original historic details and character — including beautiful wide plank pine floors, original molding, built-ins, finish details and six (!) fireplaces — have been maintained. As you enter the home after a stroll along Edgartown Harbor, and pause on the front porch for harbor views, you are greeted with a curved staircase and rooms in each direction with a fireplace. As you soak in the master bath, the bedroom can be warmed by yet another crackling fire and in summer you can sit on a second floor porch relaxing with morning coffee or as the day ends.

As the Island population grew, Greek Revival homes were built on the highland above the main business and trade area of Vineyard Haven. One of many, 24 William Street is a coveted location in this historic district with its proximity to shops and the harbor for whaling family convenience. This delightful Greek Revival home has been well maintained over the years and offers a spacious yard, award-winning flower gardens and a detached two-car garage. This four-bedroom antique features a flowing floor plan with formal entertaining areas and cozy living spaces with oversized windows, multiple fireplaces and old-world charm, such as wide board antique pine flooring, original molding, doors, and decorative windows throughout. 

During the same Greek Revival period, full Cape style began to appear both up-Island and down-Island. An excellent example is the Captain Joshua H. Snow House at 111 Upper Main Street located in the heart of Edgartown Village. The house has been meticulously restored/updated and expanded to reflect today’s lifestyle, while retaining its elegant and timeless ambiance. The home features air-conditioning and a state-of-the-art gourmet kitchen, including a beverage bar with copper sink. An outdoor living area provides a private area to dine under a 100-year-old wisteria and enjoy brick walkways and patio areas, which create an outdoor sanctuary — including a detached studio presenting many options for use, from meditation room to artist studio.

As tourism grew, expanded multi-level homes like Quawk Cottage at 139 Hines Point were built by the water’s edge in more rural areas (a quarter mile from town!). Hines Point is a very private area with many vintage homes on a peninsula with views to Vineyard Haven Harbor on one side and views across East Chop and out to Nantucket Sound on the other. One reason for a settlement in this magical spot may be the protected harbor provided by the Lagoon and, in the case of this home, a 152-foot private sandy beach. The wraparound porch, screened porch overlooking the Lagoon, plus multiple fireplaces and multiple second level balconies add to the charm of the property; air-conditioning provides a step into present day conveniences.

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