This beautiful estate on Martha’s Vineyard is inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic and beloved novel, “The Great Gatsby.” Designed by Patrick Ahearn FAIA, the objective of Witchwood was to recall the glamorous lifestyle of the Gatsby era including grand estates active with beautiful people, classic roadsters, and lively cocktail parties in the 1920s. Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard is a perfect setting for this grand estate due to the historic nature of the island. The homeowners loved the concept. “When I presented my plans to them, 90% of the designs remained as is,” he says. “I tried to listen carefully to their goals and objectives.”
Set on a knoll, Witchwood captures one of the most highly coveted coastal views including Edgartown Harbor and Chappaquiddick Island in the distance. As one approaches the property, the anticipation from the prolonged arrival sequence intensifies. The “Gatsby-like” arrival court is accessed through a porte-cochere which captures the style and grace of the bygone era and provides a significant hierarchal element. At this juncture, the imagery of the stately gambrel unfolds creating a formal and unforgettable sense of arrival.
The past is echoed through the use of traditional materials including weathered cedar shingles, stone veneered foundations and chimneys, and New England bluestone terraces and fieldstone walls. Equally as significant are the additions of a widow’s walk and oversailing eaves despite the advancements in technology. Both architectural elements were previously considered a fundamental element in New England architecture along the coast; widow’s walks provided a sea captain’s wife with an elevated lookout to watch for the return of her husband and oversailing eaves were crucial during foul weather prior to the invention of gutters. Today, they serve to aesthetically enhance the architectural language and to pay tribute to celebrate the past.
While Witchwood measures almost 14,000 square feet, the interior reads as more intimate than the overall size suggests. Patrick explains, “The reason it feels more house-like and not overdone is scale. It’s 26 feet tall, not 30 feet. The perception that the human eye adjusts to is the proportion and scale of the house.” Upon entering the home, the uninterrupted view of the vast rolling lawn descending steeply to the ocean’s edge sets the tone for the house to unfold.
Extending the limits of the interior is a variety of outdoor living spaces zoned for multiple types of entertaining. When looking at the water-facing façade, a large bluestone covered porch spans the rear of the home which allows for second floor balcony terraces off of three private bedrooms. The pool area was strategically tucked away to create an intimate experience separate from co-existing forms of entertaining and to preserve privacy from passing boat traffic in Edgartown Harbor; however, the area maintains beautiful ocean views and aligns perfectly with the sun.
“If I could go back in history, I’d go to the 1920s,” Ahearn states. “Cruising Long Island’s north shore in a Duesenberg, hearing the sound of car tires on a gravel drive, taking in a grand estate, and walking into a cocktail party. I’d enjoy that.”
For more information, please visit www..patrickahearn.com.