Free house available in Edgartown

You just have to move it.


It’s a classified advertisement almost too good to be true: “Free House. You move it. Call/text: 508-627-0511.” But owner Ed Willoughby says it’s the real deal.

Willoughby, a longtime Island resident whose family stretches back a few generations on the Vineyard, was planning to demolish the 812-square-foot, one-story Curtis Lane home in Edgartown that he grew up in to make way for a roomier modular home when someone suggested he try giving the home away for free to anyone who could move it.

“I said, Sure, why not? If someone else can utilize the house, it’s well worth keeping the history of the house,” he said.

Willoughby was born and raised by his parents in the home, along with his two other brothers.

The home was originally built in the early 1940s. The house grew as the family did, with additions added in the ’50s and the ’60s. 

Willoughby’s father, who was a commercial fisherman and longtime Edgartown Post Office employee, dug out the basement for the house, with some help from the kids.

“The little sand pails you see with kids at the beaches, we used to take those, and he’d fill them and we’d dump them out in the yard,” Willoughby said. “He gave us 10 cents a pail for helping.”

The Willoughby family got help from neighbors too, who pitched in to build the home. While the home is old, Willoughby says, the structure is in good solid condition. “They all helped build this house; [my father] helped build four or five houses in the neighborhood,” he said.

Willoughby has fond memories of growing up in the home, such as learning to open scallops with his father in the basement.

So far Willoughby has gotten eight calls of interest, with three people — one each in Edgartown, West Tisbury, and Vineyard Haven — who have shown a particularly strong interest in finding out what permits to get and who could move the home. He said he’s still open to taking calls, too.

Willoughby purchased the house from his parents’ estate when they passed away, and rented it out for several years to cover the mortgage, taxes, and water bill. It wasn’t until two years ago that he began looking at a modular home to put on the property. “I wasn’t trying to make a killing or a profit. I wanted to make it an affordable place for someone who was working here and needed an affordable place,” he said.

Robert Hayden, a Barnstable-based building mover who does work on the Island, checked out the house and told The Times his rough estimate for moving it, without having seen the basement, would be around $25,000, and there’s a strong possibility it could be relocated. He said the home is about 23 feet wide and 15 feet tall.

“It won’t be $50,000 and it won’t be $10,000,” Hayden said. “There’s some possibilities at 23 feet. There would be some tight spots. At 28 feet, I’d say no.”

Additionally, whoever moved the home would need over-the-road permits for the number of towns it would go through, which Hayden can get, and building permits. He said one difficulty he faces now is the lack of availability of utility companies.

Nantucket has a local bylaw that applies to any structure scheduled for demolition. If there’s no need for an immediate demolition and the building can be reused, the town requires owners to place an ad in the newspaper to make the home available to anyone able to move it at their cost.

With a white-hot real estate market on the Island, several real estate agents have told Willoughby they could have the property sold in one to two weeks, but he wants to live in Edgartown, and would like to see the home go to a family or someone working on the Island: “I’m the type of person that if I can help somebody, I’ll help them. The need for housing around here is really outrageous, and the prices people are getting for housing is outrageous.”


  1. Thank you for doing this! More people need to consider this option. It only makes sense with our horrible housing shortage. The town needs to do everything they can to make this a viable option for people. My dad’s house across the street from this one was demolished last year. I wish I knew that was the plan when we sold it as I would have suggested moving it rather than tearing it down. Moving this small home would be a snap and could house a family. I wish I had room on my lot!

  2. My Mother was the owner of the Arbor Inn …upper Main Street in Edgartown …before my Mother added on and renovated… making this a beautiful Inn ..where we as a family spent many many wonderful years ….this was a small farm house moved from Chappy …I think its a brilliant idea for some one to move and own this sweet little house …It would be great to have more likeminded people such as Ed Willoughby..Bravo Ed

  3. I’m impressed to hear Nantucket has the right idea. This is wonderful and I hope it will become a growing trend in this age of unaffordable housing and homelessness. Thank you Mr. Willoughby! We need more like you!

  4. Didn’t ‘Habitat for Humanity’ have a first right of refusal here on MV, at one time, before a house could be torn down that had potential for relocation?

    • I can’t say for sure if they have first right of refusal but I know I’ve heard multiple times that houses have been offered to them and they have refused. I would think there are probably issues like where to store a house etc along with the amount of houses needing to be moved compared to what they can handle.

  5. This is a great opportunity if someone already has a piece of land that needs a house! Otherwise, good luck trying to find an affordable place to put it.

  6. I think there should be more people like yourself in this world! There are so many hurting in the world when it comes to housing and i really hope that this generous thought will be contagious and help people to have to start paying more attention in this world. There are so many abandonded buildings and i believe that it’s a huge crisis! What beautiful breath of fresh air to see that there are good people still left as thoughtful as you. I feel the most unfortunate situation going on with the housing crisis are american families are suffering and hurting so bad at this point and i believe many just turn a blind eye, so many forget where they come from. This country was built on a “we” it is so important for people to understand that love and mankind is what we stand for…… Instead of turning a blind eye we need to stop and help one another. That is how we will all heal. Godbless! United we stand.

  7. I have moved to the mainland (Plymouth) 17 years ago for my job relocation from Annapolis, MD. My job is now sourced out to a company in the Netherlands. My husband is a retired teacher. I have spent my life as a care giver to those with dementia and Alzheimer’s and also spent most of my years working with a worldwide company specializing on bring community branding together. Keeping the integrity of this beautiful breath of fresh air entacted and find just a corner piece of land (state/park) that this home could help serve the community for Covid Central for information, vaccines, booster shots, flu shots, etc. Let’s make this home continue to serve the community for those with emotional disorders and needs for direction. Let’s eliminate those suicides, and have and open door policy with a professional to discuss that everyone of us have felt disparate, disparity, rejection, defeat and loss. Let’s make this a home of healing to remain on the island and be available for ALL who live on the island, to be loved by the islanders and supported by all (professionals from on the island in collaboration with those off the island). This home should be one of an open door policy serving the community in a valuable effective way that serves all not one . This could be a lovely safe haven for all on the island. It’s a beautiful thing. That’s been my experience whenever I have visited the island. Yes….it’s a beautiful thing!

  8. What an adorable needs to be saved…sure hope it finds its own home…love the islands and ocean..a sweet cottage..

  9. This is so awesome. Ive always wanted my own home but 20 surgeries,breast cancer,thyroid problems,adrenal insufficiency, degenerative bone and spine disease has took that away for me. So this is amazing for someone who may not have the money to purchase a home but can afford land and move the home. Id given anything to be able to have my own home. Goodluck to the lucky ones who get it.

  10. Cost more to move it then to build a new one. Buy land, build foundation on new land, hire people to jack it up, flat bed to move it. Not to mention the police for the road details and having the utility companies on hand to raise and lower utility lines as it passes. Nice gesture for sure but not price effective.

    • I beg to differ. I moved my house on chappy and the move only cost 40k. Way less than just the materials would have cost. Either way you would need the land and foundation for any house. The utility companies by law have to move lines with the proper notice (can’t remember how long but might have been 72hrs, correct me if I’m wrong). This is by far one of the least expensive ways to get a house on this island. We need to take a look at making this practice part of any demolition here.

  11. Charles—If you are building a house, you have to buy land, and build a foundation regardless. Electric and water also have to get to the site. Septic has to be dealt with also.
    A good crew can likely move this house for under 30 K in about a week.
    Another 30 k to hook everything up and some misc. things.
    So just the house for 60 k is a deal.
    That’s about what you would pay for wiring, plumbing and sheetrock In a new house.
    At 812 square ft. that’s about $75 a square ft.
    Yeah, it doesn’t have granite counters and a sub zero refrigerator, but believe it or not, everyone does not need that kind of excess.
    As an experienced semi retired carpenter who has managed construction crews for years, I will offer free consulting to whoever gets it.

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