The Inn at Blueberry Hill had been closed for three years, and like for a child standing outside of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, buzz began to swirl across the Island in the days leading up to last Saturday’s estate sale. This would be the first time in three years the up-Island landmark known for its country charm opened its doors to the public. Only this time guests were not checking in. They were checking all of its contents out.
After years of speculation, the property sold to a private buyer in September for $2.4 million. The new owners are Adam and Tamara Sloan of New York city. Reached briefly by telephone yesterday, Mrs. Sloan confirmed she and her husband purchased the property but preferred not to comment at this time. She said they renamed the trust to I Found My Thrill, LLC.
The property sits on 56 acres of prime Chilmark land and abuts conservation land. It includes a 6,400 square foot main building, caretaker cottage, 2,200 square foot converted barn, pool, tennis court, open meadow and walking trails. There are 38 rooms and 29 bathrooms in total.
At the estate sale, plush plaid and floral couches were being sold for $60. The entire contents of the kitchen were turned over — hotel pans, knives, used skillets, a convection oven, a butcher’s block and Tupperware flew off of the shelves. Duvets were stacked high in a few of the downstairs bedrooms, carefully placed next to packs of high-thread count sheets and Frette towels
The porch area, once catering to loyal restaurant patrons of Theo’s, was filled with mirrors, dressers and side tables. A side room off the main living area had rows of small hotel televisions, speakers, telephones and computer screens.
Vintage blue and white beach chairs, weathered Adirondack chairs and porch furniture were neatly displayed in front of the main building. Pickup trucks pulled up to the loading area, carefully stacking the much coveted furniture like puzzle pieces.
The property is rich in history, spanning more than three centuries. Originally the old Hammet Farm dating back to the mid 1700s, it was purchased in 1951 by Lewis King, a candy company executive, and his wife Louise Tate. The farmhouse eventually became the centerpiece for Mr. King’s renowned inn. Two more guest cottages were built to accommodate the growing demand from inn patrons and a separate home was built on the property for Mr. King’s parents.
Under his stewardship, Mr. King made the inn a destination for high quality food and a fine country living experience.
In 1994, Mr. King retired and sold the inn to Bob and Carolyn Burgess of Connecticut. The gym, lap pool and tennis court were added during their tenure. The couple decided to sell the inn in 2000 to West Tisbury resident Samuel Mandell.
Mr. Mandell operated the inn until 2006, when he sold the property to a private development company that planned to convert it to a high-end members club. A contentious multi-year zoning hearing ensued as the Lifestyle Development Company, a New York-based for-profit organization, pushed for the members-only club, sparking community backlash. The plan was eventually settled in a land court decision that allowed the change in use but required the restaurant to remain open to the public.
But as the stock market began to plummet in 2008, the inn stopped operations for the 2009 summer season. The plan for the private club was backed by loans from the Wall Street investment house Lehman Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy.
The inn has sat dormant since then, and Saturday brought a large crowd of Vineyarders hoping to snag their favorite rocking chair from the front porch or
those curious to see what had become of the landmark property.
Cars filled the fields leading up to the sprawling property. The sale was planned to be a weekend-long event, but by early afternoon, all of the good stuff was gone.
“These people are like animals,” one mother said to her daughter as they made their way through the tiny hall between king bedding and towels, where guests once slept.
“It’s like Black Friday for Vineyarders,” another shopper said.
Few wanted to leave empty-handed, even if it meant the small purchase of a hair dryer. Others draped themselves in down quilts and proudly walked back to their cars, ready for the winter chill.
Susan Sigel Goldsmith worked with Clarence A. (Trip) Barnes III to prepare for the sale. Yesterday, Ms. Goldsmith said nearly all of the items had sold.
“The object the owners really wanted was not just to dump everything, they wanted to create some good will in the community and I think they really have,” she said, adding that most of the twin comforters were donated to Hurricane Sandy relief and much of the workout equipment was donated to the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Menemsha and the Tisbury fire department.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “It was hugely successful, although we still have some commercial laundry equipment.