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New England Classics: A Vintage Edgartown Restoration

New England Classic Luxury High End Homes

The descriptor “restoration” doesn't do justice to Colonial Reproductions and Patrick Ahearn Architect’s ambitious collaboration in Edgartown Harbor on Martha’s Vineyard. The home recently awarded a Gold BRICC Award by the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Cape Cod is somewhere between an architectural history lesson and a rescue mission, laced with a healthy dose of maritime lore and modern-day conveniences.

Intrigued? We were.

Martha's Vineyard Custom Restored homes
Photo courtesy of the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society

A 1682 vintage house built by John Coffin, one of Martha’s Vineyard’s first blacksmiths, is the home garnering the attention. Governor Thomas Mayhew, who established the first English settlement on the island, recruited Coffin when it was clear that the lucrative whaling industry was on the rise. Mayhew sold Coffin eight acres of land on Edgartown Harbor (for $1, we might add!) and Coffin constructed a one-story, 24x32-foot house with a shed roof facing the harbor, and a blacksmith shop inside.

Cape and Islands High end Custom Home Restoration
Photo courtesy of the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society

Over the years the home has seen its share of variations, and “was turned around and added onto at least three times” during the 1700s by owners including various craftsmen, tailors and coppers, reveals Colonial Reproductions. It’s the latest incarnation, however, that’s perhaps the most extraordinary.

Custom home preservation on Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard New England
Photo courtesy of the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society

The current homeowner, enchanted by the home’s place in history, hoped to preserve the 330-year-old structure yet expand the property to serve as a summer mecca for a multigenerational family. The goal was to create a seaside compound for family and friends that would completely restore the vintage 1682 home, and surround it with a newly constructed guest cottage, carriage house and a freestanding home office/man cave, all carefully designed to appear original to the property.

Architecture and Construction high end homes in Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard

“The design of the restoration was a reinterpretation of how the house may have looked in the late 18th century,” explains the general contractor. The team scoured archival photography and landed on a “new imagery” closely aligned with the 1790s additions for the exterior, with a reworked interior that reflects the programs and comforts that people like today.

New England custom home restoration architecture and construction

Bringing the project to fruition was one of the most challenging undertakings in Colonial Reproductions’ 40-year history. The original rubble foundation had completely failed, leaving the home extremely unstable, while, inside the home, the builders found that the interiors had been compromised by beetles and termites. Before the restoration could begin, the 330-year-old house had to be surgically lifted off a crumbling foundation and a new concrete foundation with applied brick veneer installed before it could be carefully lowered onto the new foundation.

A post-by-post resuscitation of the original frame followed, all the while keeping the South Water Street façade intact. Colonial Reproductions, in essence, had to rebuild the house from the inside out. The project proved to be as fascinating as it was difficult; along the way, they stepped back in time to explore the tools, resources and methods used in the 1600s. They even unearthed a few historic relics—like an old whittled whale pipe—that they were pleased to pass on to the newest resident.

Vintage New England Home Architecture and construction

Throughout the course of the process, authenticity was prized. The interiors were either carefully preserved or recreated based on the materials used during the 1600s and the floor plan was largely untouched. On nearly every level, the rooms remain in their original location, with the exception of the staircase and the lower level, which presented new opportunities for the home, including a media room, game room, wine cellar and, fittingly, a tavern.

Edgartown New England Cape Cod Martha's Vineyard home construction and architecture

The cozy watering hole is one of the home’s most treasured rooms and a gleaming nod to yesteryear. The three-sided custom mahogany structure with raised panels sits astride a wine cellar offset by fieldstone, and underneath a coffered ceiling overhead detailed with repurposed antique beams from the original home. The inspired setting is a slice of Americana; it’s not hard to imagine sharing a few brews with a sea captain or swapping stories with your best mate.

Construction by Colonial Reproductions, Inc.
Architecture by Patrick Ahearn Architect

See more New England Classics:
A Lexington Home Reborn

A Concord New Construction
A Beautiful Brookline Re-do
Family Home by the Sea
A Weston Home with Natural Beauty
A Colonial Reimagined
A Brookline Transformation
A Year-Round Coastal Estate


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