Tucked away off Cromwell Lane in downtown Vineyard Haven, the Caleb Prouty house is a vestige of a bygone era, one of the few survivors of the Great Fire of 1883 that destroyed most of downtown Vineyard Haven.

Now those who value the Island’s fragile history have an opportunity to do what they never got a chance to do with the old Mill House — make the case for its survival.

The house is owned by Stop & Shop, which has asked permission from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to demolish or move the building as part of a plan to renovate the Vineyard Haven store. When Stop & Shop bought the Prouty house seven years ago, state archaeologists listed it as an excellent example of Greek revival architecture, noting its good condition and declaring it eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Sadly, the grocery chain let that opportunity slip away, and today the property is vacant, peeling and forgotten, hidden amid a jumble of modern-era commercial buildings.

The house was one of numerous sticking points in a redevelopment plan for the Water street grocery store four years ago. That plan eventually stalled when Stop & Shop abruptly pulled out near the end of a jumbled process with the town and the commission.

A renovated store would be a welcome improvement in an area that is the gateway to Martha’s Vineyard, just across the street from the main Steamship Authority terminal. And after a process that went awry the last time around, this is an opportunity to get it right, by involving both Tisbury townspeople and commission planners to be sure the project fits the needs, character and vision of Vineyard Haven, as well as the business needs of the corporation.

While it is troubling that Stop & Shop allowed an important piece of antiquity to fall into a state of repair, it is not clear whether the Prouty house is worth saving or where it might be moved to. In the meantime, the commission is right to seek more information before deciding its fate.

It is heartening to see Island leaders begin to take a strong stance on the importance of historic preservation. Not every historic property needs to be saved, but demolition is an irreversible step that should only be taken after due consideration.

Last month commissioners voted to penalize the owner of the Mill House in Vineyard Haven, who tore the house down without a permit, by requiring her to donate $100,000 toward historic preservation after. Part of the money will be used to create a database of historic homes in Vineyard Haven.

And last year, the commission voted to require Santander Bank to replace the roof of the stone bank on Main street Vineyard Haven with historically correct clay tiles, after an asphalt roof was installed without prior review by the town historic district commission, or the MVC.

The roof replacement project was completed early this month.

Now comes the Prouty house. Before it is allowed to go under the wrecking ball, it deserves a full review. Let’s hear the case for its survival and see a complete plan from Stop & Shop for its Vineyard Haven property.