Corbin-Norton House // 1891

Sited prominently on Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs, the Corbin-Norton House overlooks the Nantucket Sound with no buildings obscuring the gorgeous sunrises. When the home was originally built in 1891, it belonged to Philip Corbin, a manufacturer of household hardware and locks from New Britain. Conn., who got his start as a locksmith apprentice and grew his business until it employed 15,000 people. Corbin summered on Martha’s Vineyard and saw the shift from Cottage City, a Methodist-oriented summer resort town to Oak Bluffs, an exclusive summer colony. The house was built by Eli A. Leighton, a carpenter from Oak Bluffs whose descendants still live on the Is­land. The house remained in the Corbin family for some 40 years, after which it changed hands a number of times, at one point, housing a doctor’s office. By that time, nearly all of the historic character had been stripped of the home with replacement vinyl windows, removed trim and finials, and a monochrome color scheme. In 1991, when Peter Norton, the computer soft­ware magnate, and his wife, Eileen, de­cided to buy the old Corbin house for a reported $350,000, it was begging for someone with the resources to restore it. The restoration would take three years to complete, and Mr. Norton commissioned a team of consultants, ar­chitects and contractors to do the job. They meticulously restored the home, only to have the misfortune of a fire which destroyed the home. Norton funded the replica which was completed soon after, and passers-by wouldn’t be able to tell the difference!

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