Ben Moore’s house in West Tisbury is easy to miss. A window or two and a modest gabled roof are all that show through a tall row of hedges at the end of a dirt road near the center of town. It’s a small house that looks like any other in the neighborhood. Inside, the light streams through carefully placed windows into modern-looking, tiered spaces that are neither showy nor dull. It is an ideal blend of form and function.
Mr. Moore, a longtime Island architect, has been retired for three years, but still serves on the Historic District Commission in West Tisbury, where many of the houses and town buildings he designed dot the landscape.
When Mr. Moore moved to the Island as a full-time resident in the early 1970s, he was one of only three practicing architects here.
“Coming here was certainly the right thing to do because there were very few architects, and increasingly there was a lot of work to be done,” he said.
At the time, historic preservation was less of a concern, he said. But eventually local communities saw the need to protect their historic places. Bigger and bigger houses were being built, Mr. Moore said, as developers sought to outdo each other.
That trend continues today, he added, although the towns have greater control through their historic commissions and zoning bylaws.
As development and historical awareness grew, he said, more architects also began specializing in historic preservation. He said Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and Vineyard Haven are now at the center of historic preservation on the Island.
He said that West Tisbury has a less distinct architectural style than Edgartown with its Greek Revivals, or Oak Bluffs with its “concoction of cottages.”
His own designs, while not following any specific style, leaned toward the traditional, with simple wooden features and plain, sloping roofs. His interiors are usually more modern, with open, naturally lit spaces.
He applied these same principles in 1993 when he designed the West Tisbury library, his biggest and most public undertaking. The library was greatly expanded recently under the guidance of Boston-based architectural firm Ouden-Ellos, and reopened this year. But it still has the original, unpainted facade from Mr. Moore’s earlier building.