Historic Tucker House
61 Ocean Avenue, Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard, MA
This historic Martha's Vineyard "cottage" was built in 1865 for Harrison Tucker, a notable physician and medical entrepreneur of his time. Tucker was a well known socializer and influencer in his day, he threw lavish parties and hosted several notable guests in his island abode. Acting President Ulysses S. Grant famously stayed with Tucker in 1874 and watched fireworks from the roof of the building. Because of this visit the house was added to the National Historic Register in 1990.
Unfortunately, the Tucker House experienced a sharp decline after its initial heyday. In the 1930s the building was divided into 6 apartments and in 1938 the tower was destroyed during a violent hurricane. Tenants inhabited all 6 apartments when Rich and his brother Mark purchased the building in 1985, but it had fallen into a severe state of dilapidation.
Rich and Mark began their thorough renovation by building an addition to the back of the property to increase the square footage. They slowly gutted each room, repaired the rotting floor, and restored the building, inside and out, to its original state.
One of the greatest feats proved replacing the famous tower. The brothers started by constructing a replica on the lawn in front of the house. After carefully calculating the structure's weight they enlisted the help of a local ship repairman and his crane from the Oak Bluffs marina. It was a community effort and many people from the town came out anxiously to watch the brothers at work. The tower was heavy and unwieldy and the process was slow, but finally the partners breathed freely. The crane safely set the new structure to rest on the roof, where it remains.
Notable Home Improvements and Point of Interest:
- Building entirely gutted - full renovation completed inside and out
- Added to the National Historic Registry
- Highly ornate Queen Anne building style
- Dragon cutouts visible in the "gingerbread" trim detailing
- Built in, covered front porch
- Restored tower accessible to all apartments
- Stop on the Oak Bluffs historical walking tour
- Featured on several Oak Bluffs tourism postcards