WASHINGTON — The Nantucket compound that has served as a retreat for Secretary of State John Kerry for more than two decades has been quietly put up for sale, an unexpected signal that the island’s most prominent couple is stepping away from a beachfront place where they’ve had a long and storied history.
The mansion has been available for select realtors to view for about a month, though those who have seen it aren’t permitted to take photographs, according to a person familiar with the offering. The asking price is $25 million, according to the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the deal.
Kerry, who is on a diplomatic mission to China and the United Arab Emirates, declined to comment via State Department spokesman Glen Johnson.
The property is assessed at $18.5 million and has been owned by the family of Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, since 1982. A staff member in her office told the Globe that all questions about the offering should go to Carolyn Duronio, at the law firm Reed Smith. She did not return multiple calls.
It’s a surprising development, given that the home has been a very public part of the Kerrys’ lives on the island. John Kerry is nearing the end of his term as secretary of state and will be out of a high-profile government position for the first time in three decades.
It was unclear if the family was looking at buying another property on Nantucket, or planning to depart for good.
The couple also has a town house on Beacon Hill. Through Heinz Kerry’s side of the family, they have additional homes in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, in Idaho, and near Pittsburgh.
By all accounts, John Kerry seems to relish his time at the Nantucket house. Over the years he’s been spotted sailing, wind-surfing, kite-boarding, and biking. Teresa Heinz Kerry has been active in the island’s social scene and helped pay for the rebuilding of a whaling museum.
Kerry seems to squeeze in visits any time he gets a few spare days in his grueling global schedule — including a quick getaway less than two weeks ago on Memorial Day. The family famously holds an annual July 4th party on the property. Invitations are coveted, and Kerry was disappointed to miss the gathering last summer as negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal dragged on in Vienna.
The Hulbert Avenue mansion in the desirable Brant Point community has also been used by Kerry to entertain foreign diplomats and heads of state, with a roster of notable guests that includes former British prime minister Tony Blair. There’s even a flag pole out back where a special “secretary of state” flag is hoisted when Kerry is in residence.
But over the years Kerry has paid a political price for his close association with an island that is synonymous with extreme wealth.
Just six months into his job as secretary of state, in July 2013, Kerry faced a barrage of criticism when a story surfaced that — amid the ouster of Egypt’s leader — he was reposing on his 76-foot yacht, “Isabel,” docked near the Nantucket home.
Perhaps most memorably, footage of Kerry wind-surfing back and forth in the waters off his home were used against him in a 30-second attack ad during his 2004 presidential bid against George W. Bush. A male narrator accused Kerry of switching positions repeatedly on the Iraq war while images flashed of Kerry tacking back and forth on the wind-surfer.
“John Kerry — which ever way the wind blows,” the narrator said.
These days, Kerry is more likely to be spotted kite-surfing. On such adventures, officers assigned to protect Kerry trail him in a motorboat. Those who protect him on the island are often outfitted in Nantucket-appropriate ensembles: khaki pants with matching plaid shirts.
But the Nantucket compound isn’t Kerry’s. It was purchased in 1982 by the Windy Point Trust, which includes his wife and members of her family. The purchase price was $1.2 million, according to state records. And at the time, Teresa was married to Senator John Heinz. He died when his plane crashed into a helicopter in April 1991.
But the house has always been a part of John Kerry and Teresa Heinz’s life together: They married there during a 1995 Memorial Day weekend ceremony.
In 2013 — over the same July 4th weekend that landed John Kerry in the tabloids because of time spent on the yacht — Teresa Heinz Kerry, who was 74, suffered a seizure and was taken by ambulance to Nantucket Cottage Hospital. She was later flown to Massachusetts General Hospital.
She has appeared by her husband’s side recently, including at the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner in Washington.
Late last month, Heinz Kerry announced she would step down from her role as chairwoman of the Heinz Endowments, effective this October. Her three sons will take over the organization, with each serving as the leader for a four-year term.
The Nantucket property sits on nearly an acre of prime beachfront land, just blocks from the island’s main village. Like nearly all Nantucket homes, it’s wooden with gray shingles and white trim.
There are two buildings on the property. A two-story main house, built in 1920, includes about 5,600 square feet of living space, according to town records. The home has five bedrooms, 4½ bathrooms, and an 81-square foot whirlpool.
Parties are frequently held in the back of the house, where a porch overlooks a stretch of sand, with a commanding view of the ocean.
The other structure, a guest cottage, includes just over 800 square feet of living space. Built in 1985, it doesn’t face the water. There are two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
And should the Nantucket house be sold, Kerry has another nearby vacation option: As a member of the sprawling, old-money Forbes clan, he still has access to Naushon Island, a family-held, private retreat in the Elizabeth Islands chain, near Woods Hole.