By BETTYE FOSTER BAKER
The Cottagers, Inc. 28th Annual House Tour, titled Architectural Treasures, Past and Present will be held on Thursday, July 15, rain or shine. In the fine tradition of distinctive homes associated with the tour, five residences will be featured.
Two historic cottages in the Copeland District were built by the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company during the 1886 building boom. Both have been restored in keeping with the period. Three newly built contemporary homes also are featured. One on East Chop has magnificent views to Nantucket Sound from every room; a second features a gambrel design with astonishing views to Sunset Lake, the harbor and beyond; and the third is an extraordinary example of the beauty of reclaimed items and green technologies. Whether you live up-Island or down, this house tour is not to be missed.
Advance tickets are available at C’est La Vie and Cousen Rose Gallery at a cost of $20 per person. On the day of the tour tickets can be purchased at Cottagers Corner, 57 Pequot avenue, across from Hartford Park beginning at 9 a.m. Look for the colorful windsocks to identify the residences. Proceeds from last year’s tour went to a number of Island charities.
7 Pequot avenue Johanna Roses
Built in 1872, this two-story summer cottage is of a modified Camp Ground construction. Located in the historical Copeland District, it is a fine example of the summer cottage architecture of the late 1800s. The cottage features stick construction, a wrap-around-porch with decorative balustrade and side pediment. The roofed balcony with its post and bracket construction replicates the porch below.
The two-story mansard roof tower has windows and decorative dormers. Records show that the cottage was sold to John R. Reed by John W. Cotton in 1874. Johanna’s parents purchased the cottage in 1960. The windows and front door are northern Gothic and the cottage has ogival trim. Johanna’s family over the years has painstakingly restored the home by blending traditional Oak Bluffs character with modern comforts. The porch is outfitted with antique wicker.
The cottage was a part of the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company’s original development which came about shortly after the Wesleyan Grove Camp Ground. It was an alternative to the area we now know as the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. Owner Johanna Roses, a retired educator, is knowledgeable about her own family history and the significance of the cottage to this historical community.
She devotes much of her time to the continued preservation of the house she summered in as a child, remaining true to the vision of her parents and holding close the traditions they established early for the cottage.
You enter the comfortable cottage into a double living room, dominated by a lovely Eastlake Victorian settee along with many Empire and other antique furnishings original to the cottage. The eye immediately gravitates to a built-in walnut burl corner cabinet displaying an exquisite collection of Flow Blue china, popular during the Victorian period. Flow Blue was created in the early 1800s when English pottery makers, in their efforts to duplicate Chinese porcelain, discovered the unique properties of cobalt oxide while experimenting with transfer printing.
The dining room table and all refinished furniture in the house were done by Johanna’s father. A closet boasts an extensive collection of Phoenix Ware and fine china chocolate pots. A collection of handkerchief plates and iron trivets on the wall are among Oak Bluffs memorabilia the family collected over the past 50 years. A charming vintage sewing machine serves as the base for the kitchen table.
Upstairs there are four bedrooms. The tower where Johanna and her brothers slept as children remains as it was then, just reinforced for safety. In the master bedroom there is a picture of a yard of roses, a prize given to the original homeowners for selling magazine subscriptions around the turn of the century. One cabinet is filled with Victorian hairpins and combs of every description; another has an extraordinary collection of men’s collar buttons. In the upstairs bathroom there is an unusual toilet paper holder that precedes 1871, the first time toilet paper was perforated.
A second bedroom displays the hands of Johanna and her brothers as children, molded in plaster of paris by her father, and there is a family picture gallery on the wall.
6 Samoset avenue Jim Kaplan and Brooks Robards
To live in the Copeland District in Oak Bluffs is to have a passionate appreciation for history and the cottages that represent an architectural period from the past. This commitment to the preservation of that history is clearly evident in Jim Kaplan and Brooks Robards’s cottage, Summerset — the name comes from a sign found in the cottage which now hangs in the livingroom. Both owners are writers and published authors, and according to Brooks, they have a love affair with this house and take pride in keeping it as close as possible to the original. In this cottage, they have blended traditional Oak Bluffs character with modern comforts, and the simplicity and uncomplicated living style of the owners is evident.
They bought the five-bedroom, three-bath shingled cottage in 1979 and began restorations with Zack Odette, and later Norman Rankow, Bill Reagan, the late Sturgis Entwistle, and Siew Ong. At one time it was a boarding house. The exterior features gingerbread trim which the couple restored in 1980. The architectural style is Carpenter Gothic and was built in the late 1800s. The cottage has stick construction, a covered post and bracket porch which extends to the sides, and an upper level balcony with finial and pendant decorations. Brooks refinished the massive entry door. Nickel silver doorknobs can be found on both front and side doors. The late Sturgis Entwistle restored the gingerbread and much of the porch fancywork over the years, working from old photographs. He also built cupboards and cabinets, and restored front and rear stairway railings to their original condition.
Interior furnishings include a fine mahogany man’s Victorian dresser in the upstairs master bedroom. Though there is a chimney in the cottage for two wood-burning stoves in two bedrooms, these homes were built strictly for summer; there was no heat or insulation and initially no inside plumbing. The living room kerosene stove was replaced with a wood stove in 1979. An original stairway to the tower no longer exists.
You enter the comfortable cottage into a parlor dominated by a beautifully carved stairway. Original pine floors have been painted black. There is an office, dining room, old-fashioned kitchen and new bath on this level. Wallboards throughout are original to the house. The dining room and kitchen share a sliding door for food delivery. Vintage furnishings include a variety of washstands, tables and chairs.
Upstairs, five bedrooms are each designated by color. The pink room is where the original stairway to the tower was. Green and lavender rooms have center beams for curtains to divide them into separate bedrooms.
An expansive, covered balcony off the master bedroom is no longer in use. Nevertheless, the sea views throughout the second level are wonderful.
24 Greenleaf avenue Joe and Amanda Parham
High on the hill, overlooking Sunset Lake to the harbor and beyond is this elegant, inviting sanctuary of contemporary design. It is a pristine example of the beauty and quality associated with recycling products which preserve the environment. This is perhaps a prototype for the houses of the future.
The house built was built on an empty lot where formerly the Ida Legg cottage, built in the 1920s, was located. The house had burned in a fire; Joe purchased the lot in 2001. That is when his vision of a summer home began to take root and he hired South Mountain builders of West Tisbury to help shape his idea and concept. A decaying guest house that had not been lost in the fire was saved, and a 750-square-foot structure was constructed. Joe Parham was so impressed with the work that he hired South Mountain to build the main house on the front lot. The result is a lovely in-town summer house that would rival any houses off the dirt roads up-Island.
On the approach to this cedar-shingled, gambrel-roofed house, the eye is immediately drawn to a porch turret, topped by a carousel-horse weather vane, created by Anthony Holand. The turret was built off site, made from sustainably harvested cedar from Seven Islands in Maine. The turret and house roofs are made from old car bumpers which give the appearance of a classic slate roof. With few exceptions, the house features all recycled or reclaimed wood.
You enter the four-bedroom, four and one-half-bath home through a custom oversized door made of recycled redwood barrels from the Falstaff Beer Company in Lincoln, Neb. Casement windows surround the living area with views to Sunset Lake, the harbor and beyond to the sea. A wall of fir cabinets with cypress panels conceal a flat-screen television. A double-sided granite fireplace is shared with the dining room.
An open kitchen features a soaring twelve-foot exposed timber ceiling, set off by track lighting. White-painted cabinets, Madagascar granite counter tops, and a blue La Cornue range complete the space. A main level rear deck and shower is roofed with an angled trellis hosting solar panels.
Upstairs, there is an unusual music room, designed for the taste of the jazz purist. This is where Joe relaxes. A unique folding boat ladder provides entry and exit.
105 East Chop Drive Michaele and Al Christian
When Michaele and Al Christian followed their children to the Vineyard in the early 1990s, they rented a 1950s ranch house on East Chop. They enjoyed the house and the Island so much that Michaele asked the owner to let her know if she ever decided to sell, and when she made that call in 1999, it was the beginning of what has become an evolution of replacing the original house, a small, charming bungalow that served them well, to what is now a sprawling and beautifully-designed work of art. Billy Reagan was the contractor, but clearly, Michaele had the vision.
Dr. Christian and her husband, an attorney, live in Washington, D.C. The house is built to take full advantage of the spectacular views across Nantucket Sound from all rooms. The Christians were sensitive to the need to maintain the integrity of the shingle-style houses in the neighborhood, so the street side of the residence was designed to blend in with other homes along East Chop Drive.
The exterior is constructed of cedar boards with fir and teak casings. The 15-room house with great room was built with a combination of wood, concrete, steel, and stone. No paint is used on the exterior or interior. Interior walls are clad in cedar and floor materials are either concrete, cork, or slate. The residence has two suites: a guest suite on the first level and a master bedroom suite and bath on the second level. There are three more bedrooms and two baths on this level as well. There are two fireplaces in the house.
You enter into a foyer with floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides. A collection of African stools and drums from the original house placed beneath a tall fern at the entry are used for additional seating. The house is furnished in an eclectic style with mid-century modern pieces, primitive benches and old pine furniture. Throughout the house are chaise longes which beckon one to come, relax, and be at peace. Long window seats in the kitchen and dining area serve the same function. A large dining table and kitchen island are on casters and can be raised or lowered to table or counter height, to accommodate large gatherings or intimate dinners. Michaele loves to cook. The dining tables are made from salvaged pine, and many of the upholstered pieces are slip covered in washable fabrics.
An outside bluestone patio and cooking area is accessible to the kitchen. A detached garage serves as a furnished summer room in the summer and a garage in the winter.
The family room, off the foyer, is furnished with vintage pieces located at a variety of antique shops.
Michaele scours the Island, including Polly Hill Arboretum, in search of native plants for her front garden. There is Joe Pye weed, lobelia, blueberries and river birch trees. Near the door herbs are planted in wooden liquor casks.
The upstairs is a study in simplicity, beginning with the industrial-style stairway. At the top is an African bed from the Cameroons. A pass-through office area leads to a quietly understated master bedroom and balcony where the Christians have morning coffee. The master bath has a slate shower. There are three additional bedrooms and baths on this level, for the adult children, and a bunk room for the grandchildren, who have their own balcony. This is a home for family and family friends to share. Michaele is also an artist and her monotypes are displayed throughout the house.
15 South Meadow Lane Crystal and Ludwig Gaines
Situated on Sengekontacket Pond, a stone’s throw from Farm Neck Golf Club and minutes from downtown Oak Bluffs, this is the newest addition to the exclusive and charming homes in the Meadow View Farms community. The owners are from historic Alexandria, Va. Crystal is the former owner of an IT consulting company and Ludwig is of counsel with an Old Town Alexandria law firm.
Having visited the Island for years as children, young adults, and seasonal renters, during their 2007 summer vacation, the couple purchased the South Meadow Lane property, one of only two remaining undeveloped lots. They worked closely with talented young architect Jessica Cook and builder Gene Erez of Cornerstone Building and Remodeling, and by the spring of 2009, in time for the upcoming summer season, the new home became reality.
As you approach the home, rhododendrons, hydrangeas and tall sea grasses framed by giant boulders border the 180-foot pea stone driveway leading to a custom-built garage with pergola and multi-vehicle car port. A window-encased third level tower stands like an emerging lighthouse from the rocks. An inviting wraparound front deck with swinging bench, rocking chairs and colorful hanging plants catch the eye.
You enter into a two-story foyer encased with windows that distribute sunlight from virtually every angle. An oversized ceiling fan swirls above and a giant portal window looks out onto the foyer from a second-floor bedroom occupied by the Gaines’s young children, who often look down and greet visitors with a child’s curiosity, offering smiles and giggles. The home has 15 rooms and four and a half bathrooms. Bright walls in colors of warm orange, yellow and brown greet you at every turn, with splashes of aqua.
The open concept on the first level includes a gourmet oversized kitchen with custom cedar cabinets, granite counter tops, Viking appliances, and a raised island. A giant circular table spaciously seats eight to 14. A striking yellow glowing chandelier illuminates the area.
A step-down invites guests into a two-story great room with plush sectional sofa, custom stone fireplace, giant ceiling fan and wall-mounted, custom-framed 62-inch high definition plasma TV. Skylights shower the multilevel room with sunlight.
Floor-to-ceiling double doors mark the entrance to the first floor master bedroom, with walk-in closet and private access to the outdoor deck. A second level includes guest bedrooms, custom-built window benches and portal windows. All rooms are equipped with ceiling fans and flat-screen televisions. An outdoor wraparound second-level deck welcomes visitors outdoors and offers relaxing elevated views of the backyard and woods.
The owners’ vision was to provide an opportunity to simply enjoy the outdoors. To that end a stainless-steel eight burner grill, outdoor hot tub, outdoor shower and stone outdoor fireplace were constructed. The lush flowered landscape was designed by Melissa Thomas of Seascape Design with gardens that attract a beautiful array of butterflies and hummingbirds.
The unique third-level tower is indeed reminiscent of a lighthouse, its interior walls painted sky blue and aptly dubbed the sky room.
Since the home was built, the owners have spent Thanksgiving here with family, hosted spring golf outings and winter retreats.