The Tea Lane Farm building committee has selected a draftsman to help with the plan for restoring the historic farmhouse in Chilmark. Committee members Leonard Jason, Dick Smith and Chilmark selectman Frank Fenner agreed to engage the services of Elise Elliston, a Chilmark resident, last week.
The goal is to have a final plan for renovating the farmhouse ready for the annual town meeting in April.
“Our needs at this point are to have a fairly simplistic picture of the floor plan of what we have and various options that might be good,” Mr. Fenner said at the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday. “We need to get this going so we can narrow down our possibilities and have prices for the spring,” he added.
“This is an excellent progress report, thank you,” chairman Warren Doty said. “Sounds like we’re really moving along.” The committee will meet with Mrs. Elliston again in early December.
Owned by the town, the farmhouse was the former home of Bobby Silva, who had a life estate to occupy the house until his death. Now the town is working on a plan to restore the house and find a tenant farmer to live there and actively farm the 50-acre property that sits at the intersection of Tea Lane and Middle Road. The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank owns the farmland around the house.
The Chilmark historical commission, a representative from the state historical commission and the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust have all been involved in the draft plan for the property. The farmhouse itself dates to the middle 1700s but as is the case with many old New England homes, various additions have been built onto the house through the years.
Mr. Doty said he learned through conversations with various preservation experts that the additions are also considered historic.
“You have to accept the changes because the building has been living through its existence,” he said.
One example is the front porch that dates back to 1905, which is old but not as old as the 1755 original part of the house. Mr. Doty said the town was told “to treat it as a building that was evolving and keep its character intact but don’t worry too much about how much it has changed.”
In other business, when selectmen inquired about any news relating to the investigation in the July 12 fire in Menemsha, town executive secretary Tim Carroll opened an empty folder and told the board he had nothing new to report. The selectmen were due to receive an update last week, but did not. Reached by telephone yesterday, Coast Guard Capt. Verne Gifford confirmed the no-news report.
“The investigation is being conducted by multiple agencies . . . and they all have to produce a report and sit down together to make sure the final report includes all three,” Captain Gifford said. “They’re at that stage now. Each agency is nearing their finality but trying to come to a consensus where they can,” he said, adding:
“They have been making progress. I don’t see the work they do, I just hear of it. It’s moving forward.”
Selectmen are aiming for a January start date for construction on a new connector pier destroyed in the fire. Menemsha Station Coast Guard Chief Jason Olsen said earlier this week the orange containment booms used in the fire and now damaged, were removed from the harbor this week.