Plans to tear down a historic East Chop home forced neighbors, Martha’s Vineyard Commissioners and historic planners to weigh concerns about increasing home demolitions in the town against their support for the proposed rebuild project during a public hearing Thursday.

Located in the heart of the Vineyard Highlands at 9 Beecher Park, the 2,000-square-foot home dates to 1877 and was built in the expansive Camp Ground style, according to a commission staff report.

The home’s age, as well as its listing on MACRIS, the state historic building database, as a historically significant structure, triggered mandatory review by the commission.

Applicants are Bill and Melissa Callahan, who purchased the property in September 2020 for $1.3 million. Their designer is Oak Bluffs architect Chuck Sullivan.

Although the home lies outside a defined historic district, testimony provided to the commission by the town historic district committee suggested the front facade was the most historic and significant part of the building, which has had numerous additions over the past century.

A structural report provided by the applicants stated that while the house did not exhibit any major structural stability issues, it would need “significant structural upgrades” in each of the load bearing components if the applicants undertook any major renovation project.

At Thursday’s meeting, Mr. Sullivan and commission staff said the applicants want to replace the historic home with a 3,500-square-foot, year-round residence. The new building would be similar in style to the historic home, except larger, Mr. Sullivan said, with a covered porch, white trim, cedar shingles and wood moldings and gables that resembled the old building.

“The new building is intended to match the historic building in several respects,” commission DRI coordinator Alex Elvin said.

Mr. Sullivan advocated for the tear down during the public hearing, saying it would be more cost-effective than a renovation — and actually lead to greater preservation of the historic parts of the home because a renovation would require significant structural support.

“This building could be saved . . . but for an Island family . . . it’s a significant cost to renovate this building,” Mr. Sullivan said. “By the time you do all of that, you don’t see anything of the inside structure.”

Barbara Baskin, a member of the town historic district commission, said if the house was in the Cottage City or Copeland historic districts, it would likely not be a candidate for demolition. But she praised Mr. Sullivan’s design, and urged that the demolition preserve the house’s historic outer facade.

“I have seen a lot of Chuck’s work. He knows how to fix these houses,” Ms. Baskin said. “These houses are old. They are tired. They are weak. But there are ways to make them strong again,” she added, referencing a responsible tear down.

Neighbors Cecilia Brennan and Perry Paterson also complimented the design, but voiced concerns of their own, including the height of the proposed two-car garage and sentimental value of the historic house.

“I’m very conflicted. How do you determine what to save, and what not to save?” Mr. Paterson asked.

Craig Dripps, head of the East Chop Association, said he looked forward to having the Callahans as neighbors but also expressed reservations, adding that he hoped the east side of the house could be preserved.

“As a community, we frown against the idea of buying places and then tearing them down. It seems to be the way things are done these days,” Mr. Dripps said. “I have mixed feelings . . . we have to think about the history and the heritage of that particular residence.”

The public hearing was closed, with the written record left open for one week.

In other business, the commission continued to labor over the written decision for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s athletic complex, which will include a synthetic turf field. Commissioners voted 10-4 to remove added wording from the written decision.

Commissioners who voted against the controversial project said they intended to write a minority opinion.