The holding was the longtime summer retreat of the legendary actor James Cagney. The listing maintains that it “could be the last time a real estate asset of this scale ever becomes available on Martha’s Vineyard.”
Cagney, who died in 1986 at the age of 86, bought the farmland in 1936 in what was then a rural part of the island.
He owned the large parcel until a few years before he died. Cagney was also a trailblazer in these parts, before the Clintons, Obamas, and countless other celebrities made their way to the island off the coast of Massachusetts.
The property is now known as the James Cagney Estate, but is no longer owned by Cagney’s family. It was sold in the 1980s, and was apparently later occupied by a commune, according to Mansion Global.
Two Boston restaurateurs, Patrick Lyons and Sean Gildea, bought the property for $4.1 million in late 2012, Mansion Global reported.
In 2017, the prized property bounced back onto the market for $13.5 million.
Three years later, the price has been lowered by 33%, and the possibilities for development are “limited only by a buyer’s vision,” the listing notes.
“The Cagney Estate is a microcosm of the Vineyard,” says the listing agent, Andrew McElhinney. “From water views and acres of open meadows, to paths leading to the historic brickyard beach, this property has it all.”
McElhinney added that the estate harkens back to a simpler time on the popular island.
“The Cagney Estate takes you back in time to the mid-1800s, when so much of the island was untouched and undeveloped,” he says. “This rare estate is truly a refuge from the exigencies of modern city living.”
It took just one visit to the Vineyard in the 1930s for Cagney to fall for the area. He subsequently bought up acres of land, with a 1720s farmhouse and meadows, surrounded by stone walls, according to an article in MV magazine.
For 35 years, he returned during the summer months—not as an actor, but as a farmer, tending to his horses, pigs, cows, chickens, and turkeys.
In his 1976 memoir, the actor acknowledged that he loved the place “beyond words.”
And there’s a lot to love here. The private and picturesque property offers “water views, beach access, sun-dappled meadows, shaded forests through which streams and brooks wend, surrounded by acres of meadows and stone walls,” the listing description notes.
The grounds include the Cagney house, along with a second house, studio, and barn. The older buildings on the property may require some renovation.
A buyer could also opt to add more homes on the land. A prime home site is completely private, surrounded by stone walls, views of the Vineyard Sound, and the mainland. Another possible spot for building is set in open meadows.
The multitalented Oscar winner could both sing and dance, and starred in movies including “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Angels With Dirty Faces,” and “Love Me or Leave Me.”
Andrew McElhinney with Wallace & Co. Sotheby’s International Realty holds the listing.