Historic Edgartown home demolition withdrawn

Homeowners to meet with architect to discuss MVC feedback.

The owners of 189 Katama Road have withdrawn their demolition application. -Courtesy Martha’s Vineyard Commission

The owners of the historic home at 189 Katama Road in Edgartown have withdrawn their demolition application following the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s decision to review the project as a development of regional impact (DRI).

Homeowners Steve and Ellie Wise informed the commission of their decision in a July 12 letter.

“We are writing to inform you that we are withdrawing our demo application for 189 Katama Road at this time,” the letter reads. “Whether we rebuilt or renovated, we have always planned to respect the aesthetic of the town and to create a family home that was in keeping with the local architecture. We viewed our demolition application as the first step in considering our available options.”

Commission administrator Lucy Morrsion confirmed the commission had received the letter and the application was withdrawn.

The home, which sits on Edgartown Harbor, is 2½-stories, 8,000 square feet, and was built in 1916. The Wises proposed demolishing the structure to rebuild a new home in a style “consistent with other houses on Edgartown Harbor,” according to the commission’s staff report. 

The home was automatically referred to the commission by Edgartown building inspector Reade Milne due to its age. MVC staff scored the house as 8 out of 13, or not historically significant, on its matrix scoring for DRI demolition review. While not part of the town’s historic district, the Edgartown historic district commission deemed the home historically significant.

In a previous letter to the commission, the Wises said they would not refurbish the home and instead wanted to construct something more energy efficient while benefiting the harbor “economically and aesthetically.”

At the commission’s July 8 meeting, a staff presentation showed some areas that were well preserved such as windows, doors, maple flooring, wainscotting, and some intricate plaster molding while other areas showed extensive water damage and mold.

The commission voted to make the demolition proposal a full DRI review. The final vote was 10-3 with commissioners Josh Goldstein, Brian Packish, and Ted Rosbeck voting to not have a full DRI review.

The Wises letter concludes by saying they will meet with their architect.

“We were advised not to create extensive plans until we received your input on our options for the existing structure. We will meet with our architect to discuss your feedback. Thank you for the time you have spent on this and for all that you do for the Island.”


  1. Judging by the reaction from the MVC staff, commissioners and by the various letters written online I think it was a wise decision.

  2. I couldn’t be happier to read this. This iconic home on Edgartown harbor should remain intact. I’m so glad the family has reconsidered and I thank them.

  3. “Reconsidered” and “wise decision” – interesting ways to describe bullying and public shaming. Who’s chipping in to assist the new owners now that the cost to make this place habitable is at 2 or 3X what it would be to replace it?

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