Pick of the Week: Beautifully Restored Captain's House

Pick of the Week: Beautifully Restored Captain's House


Town: Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard
Bedrooms: 5
Baths: 4.5
Square feet: 3,958
Acreage: .79
**Amenity: ** Tower room off the master bedroom wing
Listed price: $3,200,000

If you appreciate classic styles with a modern touch, look no further than this tastefully renovated former captain's house on 98 William Street, Vineyard Haven.  In the 1800s, whaling was one of the world's profitable industries, and Vineyard Haven was a key port.

Originally built in 1836 by whaling Captain Charles Downs for his wife, all 14 rooms were restored by the current owner with a meticulous attention to detail. Working closely with the local Historic Commission, the 2011 updates were set on being “a true restoration; to preserve and restore… to respect the soul of the house,” says Vineyard Style Magazine. While trying to recreate the romance of a distant era, a great deal of effort was made to include all the modern comforts one would hope for.

Unique details such as the Grecian-style columns in the living room, leaded windows and the long roofed porch overlooking the harbor lend an authentic feel to the old whaling home. With the narrow hallways, slanted floors and secretive staircases comes an eccentric and genuine charm.

Enterance way

This inviting entrance space offers an open plan between the parlor and sitting room.

The main entrance opens to a welcoming foyer with ornate ionic columns marking the threshold of the front sitting room.

Den, sitting room, parlor

The staircase in the front sitting room leads to the master bedroom's wing upstairs.

The adjacent parlor features a brick fireplace, ornate built-in corner cabinets, and a baby grand piano ideal for entertaining guests.


The carved wood and brick fireplace provide a sense of warmth to this stately room.

Just beyond the entry rooms is the drawing room, a large den with access to the wrap-around porch. A big bay window provides the room lots of natural light.

Drawing room

The "drawing room" is spacious and relaxing.

Attention to detail is what makes this home so remarkable. Doorframes are hand carved in a  traditional style of luxury; even the radiator features ornate etchings.


Few new home builders would think to turn a radiator into a piece of art.

Through the den is the dining room. A large bay window bathes the room in light. Custom cabinets with antique pane glass doors anchor either side of the window. The dining room also features a large working fireplace. Adjacent is a “buttery” (pantry) and washroom.

Dining room w window

A stunning bay window, bookended by custom cabinets, fills the dining room with light.

From the dining room, an elegant archway leads into the brick-floor kitchen.

“Any changes made were about protecting the integrity of the original house, rather than for personal style or convenience – except the kitchen,” the current owner told to Vineyard Style Magazine.

Before the renovation, the kitchen was a cramped linoleum clad remnant of the 1970s. The owner expanded it without changing the footprint to create a light-filled atmosphere for cooking and socializing.


Featuring polished Carrera marble island, custom cabinets, soapstone sink and countertops, and stainless appliances including a Sub Zero fridge, the modern kitchen is tastefully integrated with the overall feel of the house.

French doors open to the backyard patio perfect for al fresco dining.

Patio II

The covered deck is an ideal spot to enjoy a cup of coffee and the paper in the morning.

Located off the kitchen is a mudroom and laundry room that lead out to the back patio.

Patio (real)

The open brick patio is a place of tranquility amidst the landscaped backyard.

From the mudroom is a back hallway and a staircase that bring you to the three guest rooms and a cozy sitting area.

Sitting area?

The sitting area gives guests a place to relax before bed.

One of the back guest bedrooms enjoys the full light from a bay window and an en-suite bath featuring marble form the original master bathroom.

Bedroom (master?)

One of the guest rooms is a tear above the rest; perhaps better suited as a second master bedroom.

The front staircase in the parlor leads to the master bedroom wing with a working fireplace and adjacent walk-in closet.

Master bedroom (real)

The master bedroom is found on its own private wing.

The center hallway leads to the luxurious master bath which includes the original porcelain sink, marble surround, claw foot tub and a modern custom-tiled shower.

Bath w sink

The master bathroom features the marble sink from the original house.

Bathroom's tub

Imagine yourself in this _claw-foot cast iron tub, perhaps with the bottle of wine._

A staircase leads from the master suite’s sitting room to a third floor tower where you can relax in quiet contemplation amongst the tree tops.


The master bedroom features a staircase to the private tower.


Tower room


Clad in wood, the tower is a world away from the streets of Vineyard Haven below.

Behind the house is a big back yard, terraced perennial gardens, a carriage house and a detached two car garage.

Back (better)

A big back yard enables all kinds of summer fun.

The carriage house is a one bedroom and bath with a semi-custom kitchen - perfect for guests or extra family members. You could even rent it out during the summer for additional income.

Guest house

The converted carriage house makes for an adorable guest cottage.

Located on a quiet street with lots of privacy, this stately captains house is only a short walk to down town Vineyard Haven, the ferry boat, and the harbor where new adventures can begin.

For More Information, or to ask for a showing, call David Lott at Vineyard Open House Real Estate: 203-270-9357 or contact him by email.

Listed by Island Real Estate.

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