The Martha’s Vineyard Commission denied a proposed historic home demolition on Thursday evening, resolving to protect a 120-year-old Four Square style building in Vineyard Haven.

The decision comes as the commission has faced an unprecedented flurry of historic demolition requests in recent years, with two recent denials in Oak Bluffs and West Chop leading to court appeals from applicants.

Located at 43 Look street just east of the William street historic district, the home dates to the turn of the 20th century and was purchased by Brian Purdy in 2021 for $865,000, according to assessor’s records.

The applicant proposed tearing down the 1,920-square-foot home and replacing it with a larger buildng, designed in a different style.

Referred to the commission in April of 2022, the demolition request has since received extensive review from the town’s historic district commission, which recommended that the applicants renovate rather than demolish the property, noting its historic Four Square architecture. In a letter, historic commission chairman Christine Redfield said the building’s style is representative of a transitional period of 1890-1920 buildout in the town.

“Look street is, in its way, as emblematic of the climax-and-twilight era of the village as William street (architecturally very different but similarly coherent) is of the golden years of the 2nd quarter of the 19th century,” she wrote. “43 Look street is one of the few examples left of American Four Square architecture on Martha’s Vineyard.”

A key commission subcommittee voted on Monday to also recommend denying the demolition request to the full commission after significant debate and a tight 3-2 vote.

On Thursday, the commission strongly weighed both recommendations when deliberating on the project.

Commissioner Ben Robinson said that the house’s plainness — it has white siding, a modest front porch and square blueprint — should not be a consideration in determining its historic value.

“History doesn’t need to be made up of just the ornate and the grand,” he said.

Other commissioners felt differently, questioning the historic district commission’s recommendation.

“There’s absolutely nothing historic about this building at all,” said Clarence (Trip) Barnes, 3rd. “It’s just an old house.”

Mr. Barnes also expressed concern that the commission would need to consider a growing number of similar demolitions. Commissioner Peter Wharton agreed with Mr. Barnes’s assesment.

“Oddly enough, in 1900, [Four-square houses] were probably the McMansions of their time,” Mr. Wharton said.

While the builder provided an estimate for renovation at $650,000 to $750,000 that was only slightly less than the cost of the proposed new construction, estimated at $734,000 not including the cost of demolition, the commission ultimately felt that the house’s history was best preserved, rather than torn down.

“It may not be beautiful, and none of us may actually like it, but that doesn’t make it not historic,” commission chairman Joan Malkin said.

Other commissioners raised concerns about the environmental impact of the demolition and the incompleteness of the design for proposed replacement.

“I don’t see any compelling reason to accept that loss,” said Michael Kim, the governor’s appointee on the commission.

Commissioners Fred Hancock, Linda Sibley, Christina Brown, Kate Putnam, Jim Vercruysse, Jay Grossman, Joan Malkin, Michael Kim, Jeff Agnoli, Ben Robinson, Kathie Newman and Greg Martino all voted to deny the demolition, while Ernest Thomas, Trip Barnes, and Peter Wharton abbstained from voting.