A few years ago now, I wrote about yellow houses in Edgartown, some of which were in sad shape. After a summer of not venturing out in the hot mid-afternoon, I visited Vineyard Haven recently to check out some houses on William street. My favorite, of course, is yellow, and thus a magnet for attention in a row of white.

William street is undergoing some welcome changes. Houses that have been neglected are being refurbished. There are quite a few that have been restored and are now for sale. But the yellow house at the head of Camp street at William street is not for sale, has not been neglected and is not in need of restoration. It is that rare object: a house that has been cared for all of its long, long life.

The house was built in 1833 for Capt. Richard C. Luce and his wife, the former Virginia Manchester whom he married in 1826. The Martha’s Vineyard Museum has the original portraits of them in its collection which shows them as a young and attractive couple about the time the house was built.

Captain Luce was a very successful captain and a shrewd trader, who made a lot of money very early in life. He was born in 1804 and went off in 1849 to the California gold fields. He returned home none the worse for wear and no richer than he had been.

Home must have looked pretty good! His wife Virginia kept house and gardened while he was off on his various ventures. Her garden was a source of pride and wonder to all. It was so attractive that when the house was sold after 1874 when Captain Luce died, Gilbert Smith, whose house sat at the head of Franklin and Spring streets, bought it all. Then he cut off the garden from the house lot and sold the house to some people named Bright.

The Brights did not keep it long and sold it around the turn of the 20th century to Christian N. Bovee, a lawyer from New York city who named it Elmholm. Its life as a summer home began then. A circuitous genealogical trail connects Bovee and his two daughters, Mary and Gertrude, to the current owners. Both daughters were not unfamiliar with beautiful houses. Between the two of them they had six or seven husbands with lots of money. But they also had enough aesthetic sense to leave the house as it was.

One of the most striking features of the house, and one which was copied by several others on William street, is its porch. Porches were not generally a part of Greek Revival houses here, but Captain Luce had admired them in the houses he saw on his stops in Charleston and Savannah. He also admired cupolas and his house was one of the first to add this feature. The magnificent doorway out to the porch was once the main entrance to the house, but when William street was changed to its present configuration the entrance was moved to its present one.

This entrance is more restrained and fits into the context of other, more modest houses, in the area. The change works inside the house too as the house has two halls, either one of which works well for receiving guests. The interior of the house remains much as it was.

Modern touches have been kept out of sight and the house feels like what it is — a treasured home for many generations. It is the real thing.