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Classic summer living on Martha’s Vineyard

Among the early 20th-century “Grande Dame” summer homes on Martha’s Vineyard stands “Big Bluff,” which the Ivison family has owned since 1969.

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“As a kid I had wonderful summers here — swimming, sailing, fishing, hiking, exploring,” says Sterling “Skip” Ivison III, of Maryland, who has summered on Martha’s Vineyard since he was born.

Later memories encompass the “many good times we had with three generations — my parents, me, my wife and our two boys — sitting around the dining table. No restaurant has a better view than our house.”

Now that his parents have passed and his boys are grown and gone, the 59-year old retired pharmaceutical executive and his wife seldom use the shingle-style, eight-bedroom, five-bath home, which was built in 1928.

Their summer home on two-thirds of an acre atop prestigious East Chop in Oak Bluffs, with 212 feet of frontage overlooking Vineyard Sound, is on the market for $2.65 million, plus a 2 percent Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank fee.

The 4,100-square-foot shingled, gambrel-roofed home retains the vintage charm of the days when urbanites and their servants spent summer-long sojourns on the Vineyard. “There’s nothing small about this house,” Ivison says. “We’ve hosted parties with over 100 guests.

The front porch opens into the living or “gathering” room between the sitting room and dining room. All three extend from the front to the back of the house and all have water views, high beamed ceilings, pickled pine-paneled walls, hard pine flooring and back porch access.

Expansive views are a prime feature of the 4,100-square-foot house built in 1928.

The living room features built-in bookcases and a beach stone fireplace, where a fire warms a chilly evening or a Thanksgiving gathering. It backs up to its twin in the adjoining three-season sitting room. Here the windows in two walls lower into pockets, converting the room into a screened porch with expansive water views to the east and north.

Behind, a smaller window-walled “artist’s room” contains pickled-pine cabinets and opens onto a back porch with stairs to the rear lawn.

Beyond the dining room is what was the servants’ domain: the butler’s pantry, the kitchen, the laundry room, a half-bath, storage closets and cellar access. Although the butler’s pantry retains its built-in, glass-fronted cabinets and copper sink, the kitchen has been updated with modern appliances, cabinetry and a vinyl floor.

Upstairs in the servants’ wing, three bedrooms with painted beadboard walls beneath angled ceilings share a full bath that contains its original footed tub.

The family, of course, would have used the main stairs from the living room to the closet-lined hallway and their bedrooms. In each of the five high-ceiling bedrooms, raised panel wooden doors and separate louvered doors were used to adjust the ventilation.

The three-season sitting room has a beach stone fireplace.

Two front bedrooms with water views share a connecting bath. A full bath off the hall serves the two west-facing bedrooms.

The master suite in the northeast end of the house has a brick fireplace, a full en suite bath and an attached sunroom with three window walls that provide panoramic water and sunrise views.

An oil furnace in the concrete-floored basement supplies forced hot-air heat. Annual taxes are about $13,890.

Doug Reece (508-696-3704) of ReMAX on Island ( lists the property.

August 2014 issue