Old farmhouses and their place in the architectural history of the Island were a topic for discussion Thursday night when the Martha’s Vineyard Commission opened a hearing on a plan to demolish a crumbling house in the rural reaches of West Tisbury off Indian Hill Road.

Homeowners Jeff and Lois Meyer want to tear down the Greek revival home situated on 22 acres of rolling sheep pasture overlooking the north shore.

The house dates to around 1840 and was originally built for Edwin Luce, a whaling captain, according to documents provided to the MVC by the West Tisbury historical commission. It has the typical features of the Greek revival farmhouse style, with cornices, an off-center front door and the gable end facing the street.

The house is listed in MACRIS, the state database for historic homes, as well as a West Tisbury historic inventory done in 1986. It has not been renovated since 1948 and has been held by members of Ms. Meyer’s family for more than a century. The Meyers, who both attended the hearing Thursday with their architect Phil Regan of Hutker Architects, bought the house in 2018. The project had come before the commission previously with plans that were later withdrawn.

Home sits on hilltop off Indian Hill Road overlooking the north shore. — Courtesy MVC

Photographs and a video tour at the hearing showed the badly deteriorated state of the home.

The owners want to raze it, along with two other non-historic buildings on the property, and build a new 4,600-square-foot residence. An old creamery with a stone foundation will be saved and restored. Old stone walls and sheep pastures are also in the process of being restored.

The demolition is under review by the MVC as a development of regional impact (DRI), as required for all homes that are more than 100 years old.

On Thursday Mr. Regan described a three-year process that began with a plan to renovate the old home, but in the end was found not feasible.

“We spent the last three years trying to figure out how to modify it,” he said.

He also downplayed the historical significance of the house, given that it is not visible from the road or situated in a downtown historic district.

“If this house was on William street [in Vineyard Haven] you could make a case for why this is important [to save] . . . but this house is in the woods,” Mr. Regan said. “It’s not that critical to the inventory of Greek revival homes on Martha’s Vineyard.”

But in the end, Mr. Regan and the homeowners said the extremely poor condition of the house left demolition as the only practical choice.

“If it was in great shape we wouldn’t be in front of you tonight,” Mr. Regan said.

The Meyers both described the family’s deep emotional attachment to the property. “We could not find an acceptable [way to renovate],” Mr. Meyer said. “And the emotional [part] is more the land than the house.”

Commissioner Fred Hancock disputed the notion that the remote location of house somehow made it less historically significant.

“I take exception to that . . . it’s a false comparison and I get tired of that argument,” Mr. Hancock said.

Commission chairman Joan Malkin said she was troubled at the loss of the Greek revival facade. “I felt that was distinctive,” she said.

Commissioner Ben Robinson said he was more concerned about the size of the new house, noting the trend on the Island toward larger residences at a time of growing concern about energy use and resource conservation. “We’re at a moment here, and the moment is think smaller not larger,” Mr. Robinson said.

The public hearing was closed with the written record left open for two weeks, to allow time to cement arrangements for photographic documentation and preserving parts of the granite foundation, as requested by the town historical commission, in the event that demolition is allowed.

Deliberations and a vote will follow later this month or in early February.