The Chappaquiddick summer home owned by Sue and Jerry Wacks that has been severely threatened by the recent breach along Norton Point was demolished over the weekend.

Construction crew member stands at edge of bluff that has been severely eroded following the breach in late December. — Riis Williams

Perched at the edge of a bluff at Wasque Reservation, the house, built in 1984, could no longer be saved from the encroaching ocean.

Crews from the Vineyard construction crew Soly, owned by Solamina Silva, began their work demolishing the housing Friday evening. On Saturday morning, the crew used heavy equipment to take down the house, while a high tide lapped at the base of the collapsed bluff below. Tiny winter shorebirds skittered about the bluffs, foraging for food.

The Norton Point breach opened on Dec. 27 after a series of storms had battered the south-facing shore of Martha’s Vineyard. Norton Point is a roughly two-mile barrier beach that runs between Mattakeeset Creek on the Edgartown side and Wasque on the Chappy side.

Breaches are breaks that occur naturally in barrier beaches running between two bodies of water.

The current breach has been following an expected pattern of migrating slowly eastward, and while a long sand spit is forming on the eastern end, the opening remains.

Soly Construction, owned by Solamina Silva (center) is doing the demolition work. — Riis Williams

Two Woods Hole senior scientists who have studied previous breaches at Norton Point told the Gazette last month that due to variables in the natural conditions, no one can predict with certainty when the breach will close.

Surrounded by some 200 acres of protected conservation land at Wasque, the Wacks house was the only house in the area.

Now that will change, as nature takes the upper hand.

Speaking to the Gazette by phone Monday, Edgartown conservation agent Jane Varkonda said the Wackses had come before the conservation commission in December after the storms, seeking an emergency permit to put boulders down on the beach. “That is not allowed under Wetlands Protection Act,” Ms. Varkonda explained. “Their only options were soft solutions — sand bags.”

Ms. Varkonda said sand bags were put down, but it was too little too late as the open breach allowed the waves to eat away the bluff.

“[The breach] just opened up their shoreline to the full brunt of the bay,” she said.

In the end parts of the house began falling over the cliff, and emergency removal was the only option. Ms. Varkonda said an after-the-fact demolition permit will be issued by the Edgartown building department.

No other regulatory permits are required, she said. “Everyone was aware of what was going on,” she said.

When it was first built, the house was located some 1,600 feet from the water, with a road running in front of the house, Ms. Varkonda said.

She reflected on how the dynamic conditions along the beach have taken a heavy toll. “That end of Wasque gets hammered any time the breach is opened,” Ms. Varkonda said. “It’s absolutely amazing, and too bad there weren’t any other options.”

In a prepared statement issued Monday, Trustees interim CEO and president Nicie Panetta lamented the loss.

“What’s happening with the Wacks’ house is heartbreaking and we understand what a difficult time this is for them,” the statement said. “We have kept in regular communication with the Wacks and have offered potential ways for The Trustees to assist the family during this very difficult situation. As a public nonprofit whose mission is to protect land for public use in perpetuity, we are unable to provide a private landowner with conservation land for their private home. We are genuinely sorry to see how the Wacks have been impacted. While The Trustees is always deepening its technical expertise in coastal adaption, managed retreat will unfortunately become increasingly common for many coastal properties.”

Sue and Jerry Wacks did not immediately return a phone call from the Gazette Monday seeking comment.

More pictures.