An agreement to sell Edgartown’s handsome Dr. Daniel Fisher house on Main street, built in 1840 for that great whaling era figure, has been reached between Island Properties, who president is Dr. Alvin M. Strock, its owner for the past seven years, and a newly formed nonprofit corporation, the Daniel Fisher Corporation.
The imposing white-trimmed gray mansion, will, the new owners plan, always be maintained as it is at present, and the grounds returned to their grandeur of the years when the late Sen. William Butler owned it, and terraced them, and built the porte-cochere at the side door so guests would have protection when they alighted to enter the mansion in stormy weather.
As for the interior, it will either be used as a one-family home, turned into apartments, or converted to offices if that is deemed the best use for it, and the zoning board of appeals is agreeable. President of the new corporation, which will not be unlike the North Water Street Corporation, is Dr. Paul Anderson, former president of Temple University and an Edgartown summer resident; C. Stuart Avery will be executive vice president. Other members of the corporation are Fairleigh S. Dickinson, Edgartown summer resident, William E. Parks, Philip J. Norton, Winthrop B. Norton, and Mrs. Robert E. Cullen.
Dr. Strock has expressed his delight that the house will be in the hands of a corporation that is guaranteeing to preserve it. There are hopes that, should the corporation ever not be in a position to retain it, the mansion would become the property of the town, and, similarly, be preserved, for it has long been considered one of the Island’s finest examples of 19th century architecture, designed with dignity and harmony.
Its ownership through the years has been varied. It was after Dr. Daniel Fisher’s death (during his lifetime Daniel Webster was among the house guests) that the property was bought by William Butler before he became a United States senator. The next owners were Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Faris, on whose death their son Martin (whose towering home on New York avenue was an Island landmark) gave it to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital to be a rest home. But when that did not seem a feasible use for it, it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Henry B. Hough and the late John G. MacKenty who, in turn sold it to the late Mr. and Mrs. Roger S. Robinson. In 1959, Alfred Hall bought it and it was he who made the sale in 1966 to Dr. Strock.
On Main street, the house has a frontage of 226 feet, and on Pease’s Point Way, to which it extends in back, 391 feet. Gnarled apple trees and tumbling grapevines give a wild quality to its back yard as it now exists.