Blue Heron Farm, the Chilmark estate that President Obama and his family have rented for the past three summers for their August vacation, has been placed on the market for sale, Wallace and Co. Sotheby’s International Realty announced on Thursday.
Situated near the Chilmark-West Tisbury town line and abutting the Grey Barn Farm, the 28.5-acre gentleman’s farm with a barn, pool, apple orchard and tennis courts, fronts a cove of the Tisbury Great Pond and is owned by William Van Devender, a Mississippi businessman. Mr. Van Devender was also a founding partner in the Vineyard Golf Club. He bought the property from the estate of the late M. Anthony Fisher in 2005 for $20.35 million.
The asking price on the property is $23.7 million. Wallace and Co. Sotheby’s has the exclusive listing. The Edgartown real estate firm also handled the sale of the house to the Van Devenders.
The property includes two full-sized homes as well as a boathouse on the pond and a German-built Pennsylvania hay barn that was disassembled by West Tisbury builder Rick Anderson and transported to the Vineyard to be reconstructed when the Fishers owned the property. There is also a basketball court, a large vegetable garden and flower gardens on the property.
Mr. Fisher and his wife, Anne, longtime seasonal residents and philanthropists here, bought Blue Heron Farm in 1992 and subsequently did extensive renovation work on a rundown Victorian farmhouse. A second renovation and expansion of the house had just been completed when the Fishers died in a plane crash in April 2003. The renovation work was done by Chilmark builder Heikki Soikkeli.
“It was a small Victorian vernacular Vineyard farmhouse,” Mr. Soikkeli recalled in a 2009 interview with the Gazette about the house. “Most of the inside was original from the 1800s; white enamel gas range stove, peeling old wallpaper, you know.” The original house is now gone, replaced by a white clapboard farmhouse with a wraparound porch that the Fishers built, inspired by the house in the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams.
For the past three years Wallace and Company has managed Blue Heron Farm for the Van Devenders, renting it out on a limited basis, including to the Obamas beginning in August of 2009. The First Family spent 10 days in the farmhouse last month.
Tom Wallace, a partner and owner of the real estate company, said yesterday that the Van Devenders decided to sell because they have been spending less time on the Island. “I think their plans include spending more time on the West Coast for a variety of reasons . . . I would expect them to buy something out there,” he said.
He said there already have been expressions of interest in the property from as far away as London and California. “We have had some very serious inquiries,” Mr. Wallace said.
He said he believes the property is priced fairly. “Oh, absolutely. When it comes to what they [the Van Devenders] acquired it for, they were very shrewd, and what they’ve put into it — they are very serious sellers,” he said.
Mr. Wallace said if the property changes hands it is unclear whether it will be available for rent to the Obamas again.
“Someone may acquire the property and choose to use it exclusively — or they may not,” he said.
“But they [the Obamas] certainly have had some delightful times there.”