vineyard’s oldest home
The Hancock-Mitchell House, possibly Martha’s Vineyard’s oldest building, is speculated to have been built by Rev. Thomas Mayhew, Jr., circa 1652-1657. A classic example of the “Cape-Type” house present throughout New England, it was probably first built as a “half-house” (a two room house on one side of the chimney), and eventually expanded into a “five window front house.” In the 18th century a new kitchen was added to the north (over the existing well) transforming the structure into the archetypal “ell house.” (Paraphrased from historic source in right column).
Around 2000 The Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation inherited the house and 150 acres, and Maryann Thompson Architects was invited to evaluate the condition of the building (which suffered greatly from termite damage) and determine how - and if - it could be used to accommodate various habitable functions.
This house and project is the best example of sustainability: keeping the existing building and limiting new construction.
The project is included in the portfolio more for its “archaeological” merits, than for design. Please enjoy these images of one of the oldest buildings in the U.S. As shown, the building’s site is most likely Early Colonial accurate, as it is surrounded by a mix of agrarian fields and wild nature. A narrow unpaved (sandy) road leads a long way off the main road to the house.
While most of Martha’s Vineyard - for the few who have had the opportunity to tour the “private” island - feels rather historically unaltered, with very narrow roads surrounded by uncombed nature, this site falls one step even further back in time. The house and land embody a romantic primitivity Ioana never encountered before, making it her most authentic, history-in-the-present experience.
Chilmark, Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Henry E. Scott, Jr., “The Story of a House; Perhaps the Island's Oldest,” The Dukes County Intelligencer, Martha’s Vineyard Museum Quarterly Journal, Edgartown, MA, Part one: May 1981, Part two: August 1981.
The Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation
Maryann Thompson Architects, Cambridge, MA
Project Designer/Manager (Drawings and Photographs):
Henry E. Scott (in article referenced above)