Sponsored: Real Estate Confidential: Historic East Chop Home

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.

As the Island approaches summer with some uncertainty, visitors and home buyers want to know what is happening. Well, we are still doing broker house tours via Zoom. On the many rainy days of April this method was perfect, and now it is time to get out in the sun. I am still doing video tours of any home if asked by clients and most showings the past few weeks have been to Islanders. Possibly this market will have Islanders in a better negotiating position with fewer buyers at least for the next couple of weeks. 

When I heard and saw the online tour of 232 Massachusetts Avenue, Oak Bluffs, I was left breathless by the grandeur but most fascinated by the history of the property. With over 5200 square feet of living space with five bedrooms and plenty of extra sleep areas, it is not surprising the current owners have enjoyed four generations in the home with up to 19 family members at a time. The best descriptions will have no words but are exhibited in the attached photos. 

The home in all its grandeur has an upstairs porch and a downstairs porch both overlooking Mill Square Park. East Chop has so many amenities to offer: beaches, yacht club, tennis club and a 12-minute walk to downtown. The home itself features a large paneled living room with a beachstone fireplace, and two elegant, sun-filled family rooms with access to the porches. The third floor features a rustic gameroom with pool table and ping pong tables and serves as overflow sleeping space. The home has had many upgrades over the years and awaits your personal touch, but you may want to keep the claw foot bathtubs and vintage tile.

The home, built in 1900, started as a small cottage moved to the site and that cottage now serves as the dining room with a Dutch tiled fireplace. The home has had several famous owners over the years. One was Charles Seeberger, the inventor of the escalator, which won the Grand Prize at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. When built and during his ownership until 1946, the house and property were considered the showplace of the Island. 

Actor John Lithgow’s family owned the home for six years in the 1950’s. In his book “Drama, An Actor’s Education” John describes his first experience. “With forced cheeriness, my sister and I picked out our bedrooms, settling into a drafty, summer home … Dad mastered the workings of the big coal furnace … which roared to life after decades of idleness.” From a photo of the house in John’s book, you can see how little it has changed over the years. Charles Seeberger had the home built as a year-round residence. The old coal furnace that provided steam heat through many radiators was removed 40 years ago and electric heat added to take away the chill in the changing seasons. As far as I know, the home still has the 1900 insulation and retains the beauty of its original windows.

The home sat empty for several years and then in the 1960’s was used as a residential summer dance camp. That might give you a better idea of the expansive size for you and your family to enjoy for many generations into the future. I do hope you will take a moment to view photos of this extraordinary home. Probably because I know the current construction costs and also because it expresses a solid, older home, my favorite feature is the paneled ceilings.

Stay well.

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