Blue Heron Farm, the sprawling gentleman's farm overlooking Tiah's Cove in Chilmark and West Tisbury that was the former residence of the late M. Anthony (Tony) Fisher and his wife Anne, was sold last week to a Mississippi couple for $20.35 million.
The buyers are William and Mollie Van Devender of Jackson, Miss.
The sale marks the second highest price paid for a single residential property in the history of the Vineyard, coming in just under the $21.89 million paid for the former Peter Sharp home on Starbuck's Neck in Edgartown in October of 2001.
The transaction was complicated and involved three properties: 29 acres in Chilmark and 3.7 acres across the pond in West Tisbury that together sold for $19.94 million; and a .3-acre beach lot at Quansoo that sold for $410,000.
A 3.9-acre lot that was also owned by the Fishers and considered part of the farm was sold separately to Davis and Merle Wolff of Manhattan last May for $1.1 million, bringing the total sale value to $21.45 million.
Tony and Anne Fisher were killed in an airplane crash in April of 2003.
William Van Devender, a timber businessman, was one of three original investors in the Vineyard Golf Club, a private luxury golf course that was built off the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road five years ago.
The late Mr. Fisher was in charge of leasing and acquisitions at Fisher Brothers, a family-owned real estate firm in Manhattan. At the time of their deaths, the Fishers also had a home in Manhattan.
Mr. Fisher and his first wife, Paula Fisher, bought the bulk of what was to become Blue Heron Farm in 1991. The Fishers paid $1.2 million for a 29-acre parcel with frontage on Cobbs Hill Road.
Mr. Fisher bought the Quansoo beach lot for $65,000 in 1989. In 1993 he bought 3.9 acres on Purdom Road in Chilmark for $219,600.
Mr. Fisher and his first wife later divorced and he took ownership of all the Blue Heron Farm property.
In 1997 Tony and Anne Fisher paid $500,000 for the 3.7-acre parcel on Pond View Farm Road in West Tisbury that adjoins the farm.
When Mr. Fisher bought the sprawling Chilmark property, which overlooks a finger of Tisbury Great Pond, the land had been in the same family for several generations. The land was so overgrown that the pond was not visible from any point on the property.
Mr. Fisher called on a set of skilled Vineyard builders, preservationists and landscapers to make over the property, which he named Blue Heron Farm in honor of a great blue heron that appeared on the edge of the pond one evening.
The workers, who labored on the property nonstop for three years, remodeled the dilapidated farmhouse, brought in and assembled a 150-year-old barn from Pennsylvania, planted an apple orchard, and built a state-of-the-art riding ring with rubberized sand.
A second renovation was underway on the farmhouse at the time of the Fishers' death.
The Fishers loved the Vineyard and became widely known and cherished for their volunteer and philanthropic work on the Island.
In the late 1990s, Mr. Fisher played a leading role as a member of an emergency board of trustees organized to save Martha's Vineyard Hospital from financial collapse. The Fishers also contributed to a wide range of Island charitable organizations, including the hospital, Martha's Vineyard Community Services, the Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society, and the Martha's Vineyard Arena.
Hancock Real Estate and David Flanders Real Estate, both in Chilmark, co-listed the Blue Heron Farm properties for the estate. Deborah Hancock of Hancock Real Estate and Tom Wallace of Wallace & Co. in Edgartown and West Tisbury co-brokered the sale of the properties.
Mississippi government records show that Mr. Van Devender is a member of the Southern Timber Venture, LLC, a timberlands joint venture whose owners include the Packaging Corporation of America, a producer of container board and corrugated packaging products. He founded CLAW Forestry Services, LLC, which manages land for Southern Timber.
He is president of the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit organization. He also is a member of the Pearl River Basin Development District, and the World Forestry Center. In July, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour named him to the Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality.
The Van Devenders financed the $19.94 million portion of the purchase with a $15,262,500 mortgage from the Bank of Martha's Vineyard, a division of Sovereign Bank. They paid $410,000 in cash for the Quansoo lot. The transactions were recorded Sept. 30 at the Dukes County Registry of Deeds.
The Wolffs financed their $1.1 million purchase with a $550,000 mortgage from First Republic Bank of San Francisco, Calif.