The recent purchase of a house at Seven Gates by former Secretary of State John F. Kerry prompted me to regret being retired from title examining. What an interesting place with such an interesting history. The whole idea of living in a gated community generally puts me off, but Seven Gates seems more like one of those 19th century communal living experiments like Nathaniel Hawthorne satirized in The Blithedale Romance.

Nathaniel Southgate Shaler (1841-1906), a Harvard professor of geology, came to the Island in the late 19th century, and was interested in its glacial origins. He began buying up the struggling farms on the north shore, where the rock formations were most prominent. He eventually owned almost 40 farms. He sometimes made arrangements for the old people who remained in their homesteads to have a life estate, and at the time of his own death he owned nearly 1600 acres.

Over time, he began asking various friends to share this idyll with his family, not because he was lonely (he had his rocks), but because his wife was. They had two daughters, Anna and Gabriella. Gabriella married Willoughby Webb who took over the management of the whole enterprise after Mr. Shaler died.

Mr. Webb continued the expansion of the Seven Gates community, adding properties north of Indian Hill Road, which later were sold off during the days of retrenchment starting in the early 1920s. The dairy, with its 60 head of cattle that Mr. Shaler had so ambitiously created, lost customers and the barn, so expensively and meticulously designed, became burdensome. The friends whom Mr. Shaler had invited to share his paradise stepped in and created a corporation to hold the land and, in partial compensation, received leaseholds for the various farmsteads.

One of these families was that of Russell Loines, a New York attorney who specialized in maritime law. He and his father were principals of the insurance firm Johnson and Higgins. He was also a poet, and among his many friends he numbered Wallace Stevens. The Russell H. Loines prize for poetry is still given today.

Mr. Loines died at a fairly young age in 1922 and his wife, Katherine, continued to maintain the family interest in Seven Gates. Russell and Katherine had two daughters, Barbara and Margot. These interesting women married interesting men. Barbara’s husband Ted Dreier, an electrical engineer, founded a college and worked for many years at General Electric. Margot was an actress and married twice. Her first husband was Dwight Morrow Jr., the brother of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. This marriage was a sad and depressing one as Dwight had serious mental issues. Medical science later enabled him to recover and to later remarry and live the life he was meant to live.

Barbara and Margot loved Seven Gates their entire long lives, and it was their mother, Katherine, who built the house at Site 8 in 1924, shortly after she became a widow. It later became the home of Margot (her name after her second marriage became Margot Wilkie) until her estate sold it very recently.

Some descendants of the original leaseholders of Seven Gates still live there today. Many are year-round residents, enjoying the peace and quiet that continues today. This peace was something that Anne Morrow Lindbergh desired above all else after her son was kidnapped and murdered, and her husband became a pariah for his political views. Margot encouraged her sister-in-law to seek refuge at Seven Gates. The first house the Lindberghs stayed in was an older house with no heat. The second home was owned by Gabriella and Willoughby Webb, a Victorian that the Lindberghs lived in during the start of WWII, and which reminded Anne of her parents’ first home.

The solitude suited Mrs. Lindbergh, and her young children were happy roaming the area with their dogs Thor, the shepherd that Charles had purchased to guard the family after the death of their oldest son, and Kelpie, a little back puppy. But then Charles secured a position with the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, and ever the obedient wife, Anne packed up in the spring of 1942, and left the Island that had sheltered her at such an extremely difficult time.

For more information about Seven Gates, Vineyard Voices, edited by Linsey Lee, has many personal narratives. Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s diary, War Within and Without, is also a good resource.