Nearly four months after it was razed, the historic Mill House came before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission for review late last week.

At a tense public hearing Thursday, commissioners, neighbors and one former resident continued to express confusion about the circumstances under which the Vineyard Haven harborfront residence became a gaping hole in the ground this spring.

Attorney Sean Murphy, builder Peter Rosbeck and architect Patrick Ahearn blamed the pre-emptive demolition on what they called a flawed review process.

“Some people have mentioned that the builder should have known better,” Mr. Murphy said. “I’m here a lot. I couldn’t tell you a third of the checklist items on your list . . . It was basically a failure of the process. It was not an attempt to subvert the process.”

The house, which was believed to be one of the oldest houses in Vineyard Haven, is owned by Lise Revers of Weston who bought it in 2017 for $3.8 million.

The demolition took place sometime in mid-April, sparking an outcry among preservationists and neighbors and consternation among land use boards including the commission, which subsequently beefed up its own process for historic preservation reviews.

According to Christine Mankowski, a new hire at the commission charged with reviewing projects for historic preservation, parts of the home date to as early as the 18th century and were thought to have housed Revolutionary War soldiers. Although the eponymous mill portion of the home remains standing, all of the other sections of the home were demolished in the spring, including the historic Cape Cod-style midsection.

On Thursday, Mr. Murphy began by running through a reconstructed timeline of events, beginning with a permit application in September 2018 to renovate and lift the middle section of the house, as well as demolish interior portions. “That is the first time it should have been referred [to the MVC],” Mr. Murphy said.

Despite the historic features of the home, it was not referred to commission for review as a development of regional impact (DRI). Referral is required for the demolition of any building more than 100 years old.

After construction began in March, Mr. Murphy said the builder determined from unsafe conditions that he no longer wanted to lift the middle section of the home but wished to demolish it entirely. According to Mr. Murphy’s timeline, Tisbury building inspector Ken Barwick granted verbal permission to demolish the middle section of the home as long as the mill portion was saved.

“Mr. Barwick never went to the site. He just said, take it down,” Mr. Murphy said. “That’s the second time it should have been referred.”

Builders demolished the home. Three weeks later, Mr. Barwick issued a verbal work stop order, and informed the commission of the demolition.

Mr. Barwick later apologized for his role in the misstep, and has recently retired from his position.

Meanwhile, after consulting with the historic district commission, the MVC decided to review the project retroactively, analyzing the benefits and detriments of the demolition as if it had not yet happened. Commissioners requested plans, photographs and site maps of the home before and after the teardown, and received testimony from historic district commission chairman Harold Chapdelaine.

By the end of the process, the home scored a 12 out of 13 on the commission’s new scale for proposed demolitions of historic structures, meaning it held “great significant value.”

Mr. Ahearn said a three-hour meeting with the Tisbury historic district commission led to substantial improvements in the plans for the remodeled home. Architects have decided to retain the gabled structure of the original portion of the home, the historic triple-bay window style and restored gray shingling.

“It was a productive, positive meeting,” Mr. Ahearn said. “Think Shaker, think simple, think period. Make the columns simpler, make the windows simpler.”

Mr. Chapdelaine said his commission unanimously approved the project, despite not getting the chance to look at the home before it was taken down.

“There’s no question we would have appreciated the opportunity to have reviewed this prior to, but everyone knows there was a breakdown in the process,” he said told commissioners Thursday. “One benefit is that we all get to work together in the solution.”

Along with the historically faithful redesign, applicants will pay $25,000 to create a database of all 200 or so historic homes in Vineyard Haven. They also will pay to rewrite the demolition permit application so the date of the home is clear. Even with the mitigation efforts, concerns lingered.

“I think the process you have gone through with the historic commission was admirable,” commissioner Ben Robinson said. “But the drawings look like nothing from the middle section was ever going to be saved. That confounds me a bit.” Later, in a sharp exchange with the applicants, Mr. Robinson pressed further. “We should be honest about this. There was no intent to save any of the middle section,” he said.

Mr. Rosbeck disagreed, saying the original intent was to lift the middle section of the house to re-pour a foundation.

Members of the public were more adamant in their dismay. Margi Snow, a former resident of the home, recalled carvings in the home’s windowsills that dated to the 18th century.

“On one of these very old windows there was an incision that said, Joseph and Mary, 1764. So that got destroyed,” Ms. Snow said. “I don’t know what went wrong, but something obviously went wrong . . . There was stuff that could have been saved in that house and it wasn’t saved. It’s a loss of history.”

Neighbor Chuck Parrish concurred and said further that it was the commission’s duty to ensure that a preemptive demolition doesn’t happen again.

“The age of the building was common knowledge. It should not have been destroyed,” Mr. Parrish said. “Going forward, it is important for projects to be considered in their entirety.”

The hearing was closed, with a vote tentatively scheduled for mid-September.

Commissioner Linda Sibley noted afterward that it is the responsibility of applicants to know the DRI checklist.

“It is in the best interest of any developer to make sure that they know the checklist,” she said. “It’s not an excuse.”