Wealthy Neighbours have been at War for Nearly 25 years

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For nearly 25 years, Evan Wile has been trying to build on his waterfront land (sandy lot at right), while Jeffrey Horvitz, his neighbor on the property next door (left), has been trying to stop him. ARAM BOGHOSIAN FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

For nearly 25 years, Evan Wile has been trying to build on his waterfront land (sandy lot at right), while Jeffrey Horvitz, his neighbour on the property next door (left), has been trying to stop him. ARAM BOGHOSIAN FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Trouble with Your Neighbours?

It Can Always Get Worse

These Wealthy Neighbours have been at War for Nearly 25 years

In a Beachfront Enclave North of Boston, the Battle has been Waged with Harsh Words, Pricey Lawyers, and Smelly Porta Potties

Twenty five years ago, a few dozen people gathered at an oceanfront estate in Beverly Farms with breathtaking views of the Atlantic and Great Misery Island in the distance.

The three-story, 18,000-square-foot mansion, a jewel of the Massachusetts Gold Coast, oozed history through its handsome brick facade. It had been built in 1910 for Mary Leiter, the widow of a Marshall Field co-founder ? and in a hurry. She wanted the estate she?d dubbed Edgewater ready for President Taft?s annual visit to Beverly, where the corpulent commander in chief had his summer White House. In 1950, the property was bought by the family behind another storied business, the Ames Shovel Company.

By the early 1990s, though, this sprawling slice of heaven had fallen on some tough terrestrial times. The couple who had bought Edgewater from the Ames family lost their financial footing and then lost the property to foreclosure. The gathering in the summer of 1991 was actually an auction that would determine the mansion?s next owner.

In the crowd was a 41-year-old by the name of Jeffrey Horvitz, an art dealer and scion of a wealthy Ohio family. Embroiled in a bitter divorce from a former ?Gold-digger? dancer for Dean Martin?s show, Horvitz was relocating from Florida and looking for a fresh start. He and his estranged wife had two young daughters, one of whom was disabled. They had agreed to move to separate homes in the Boston area, largely because of the quality of its schools and medical facilities.

Also in attendance was another 41-year-old, a self-described townie from Weston named Evan Wile. He had learned the construction trade from his father and was enjoying success as a developer of luxury homes who was willing to swing for the fences. He was living in a Charlestown condo with his fianc?e, and together they were scouting for their dream home.

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