The Vineyard Haven home of Art Buchwald, the late humorist and columnist who summered on the Vineyard for more than 40 years, was sold last month for $1.395 million.
The buyers are Michael E. Sneed and Emily Ann Riddell. The seller was Joel Buchwald, representative for the estate of Arthur Buchwald. The sale took place on Jan. 22.
Art Buchwald died in 2007. He and his wife Ann first rented on the Vineyard in 1967 and bought their house on the outer Vineyard Haven harbor several years later. Their literary friends Lillian Hellman, John Hersey, Mike Wallace and William Styron all lived nearby; subsequently the area of homes earned the nickname Writers’ Row.
All the writers are gone now save Rose Styron, the widow of Mr. Styron who has made their Hatch Road home her permanent residence. Mr. Buchwald, Mr. Wallace, Mr. Styron and Mr. Hersey are all buried in a small cemetery on the road to West Chop.
The Buchwald home was a bit of a reflection of the cigar-smoking funny man himself: comfortable, casual and with no pretensions.
“Life is very, very different on the Vineyard . . . people walk right into your house to see you. You don’t have that in Washington or anywhere else,” the humorist told the Gazette in an interview a short time before his death.
The asking price for the house was $1.65 million. The listing agent was Judith Federowicz at Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate, a Vineyard Haven firm. In 2012 the property was assessed at $1.65 million with estimated annual property taxes of $13,634.
Records at the Dukes County Registry of Deeds show that the Buchwalds bought property at 205 Main street from Helen Brown Chinlund for $75,000 in 1979.
The 4,200-square-foot house dates to 1888 and is a rambling three-story shingled, dormered New England-style home with eight bedrooms, four and a half baths and a veranda along one side surrounded by gardens.
In a 2005 column, Mr. Buchwald wrote humorously about a statue he had bought for the garden of the house after Ann (who had died by then) began holding Jane Fonda workout classes on the lawn. The morning classes were restricted to women; no husbands allowed.
“One day I saw a four-foot statue of a dancing lady in a gallery on the Island. I bought it and took it home. I put it in the garden and named it Our Lady of Fonda,” he wrote. “It was a hit with the wives, but everyone asked about the story behind the sculpture.
“It needed a story, so I made one up. I said Our Lady of Fonda is a shrine, and she heals shoulder pain, sore leg muscles and back problems caused by the Jane Fonda workout.”
Mr. Buchwald came to the Vineyard every August and spent much of his time out of the house, playing tennis and prowling flea markets. He was well-known as auctioneer at the annual Possible Dreams celebrity auction benefitting Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.
On one occasion the need to call an electrician at the house provided material for a column. “I was playing tennis when I was called off the court by my wife. She said excitedly over the phone, ‘The electrician is coming in an hour,’” he wrote.
“I showered, put on my best dress shirt and Italian silk tie, plus the blue blazer that I save for British royalty and American workmen.”
The columnist also famously poked fun at the Vineyard obsession with real estate. “I know what I did on my summer vacation — discussed real estate,” he wrote in 2005. “Everyone on Martha’s Vineyard discussed houses. It was the main topic of conversation at dinner parties — it topped politics, sex scandals and food.”
But by contrast, his affinity for the Island was serious.
In the interview with the Gazette near the end of his life, he showed the reporter a jar someone had sent him filled with sand from Owen Park.
“There is something about the Vineyard that binds us all together,” Mr. Buchwald said. “On the Vineyard the big question is not who you are but where you’ve been and why you’ve been there. Each thing, each moment has a meaning, a place, a trail you might have walked on. The Vineyard is a very important part of my life, it’s an important part of everyone’s life who goes there, even when we’re not there.”