Martha’s Vineyard…so much more than its “hoity-toity” image

Martha’s Vineyard…so much more than its “hoity-toity” image

Just the name…Martha’s Vineyard…evokes an image. In my case, it was a stereotypical image of “hoity-toity rich white people who spent glamorous summers on this exclusive island.” Now, after spending four days and three nights on Martha’s Vineyard, I finally understand its creative, charming, magnetic, historical and downright beautiful allure. Yes, it has a scenic landscape and there’s something about being on an island with so much beauty and historical richness that enters your soul once the ferry docks on the island…but its true blessing, for me, are the people who live there and gather there that broadened both my image of Martha’s Vineyard and my soul.

It’s people of all colors. Let me just be blunt. I’ve never seen so many people of color on an island with a reputation, in my viewpoint, of being white and rich. But it’s the spirit of the people, really, all the people I encountered, that gather on this island who bring out its warmness, kindness and sense of oneness. If you haven’t guessed it already, I fell in love with Martha’s Vineyard and the people who inhabit its essence.

Phineas, a longtime family friend who lives in Boston, joined me and drove his car onto the island…which turned out to be a wonderful idea because we were able to venture out and really see the whole gorgeous island.

Originally inhabited by the Wampanoag, Martha’s Vineyard was known in their language as Noepe, or “land amid the streams.” In 1642, the Wampanoag numbered somewhere around 3,000 and dropped to a little more than 300 by 1764. Martha’s Vineyard was brought to prominence in the 19th century by the whaling industry, during which ships were sent around the world to hunt whales for their oil and blubber.

The island does have a celebrity reputation and if they were there when I was there, we didn’t run into one another. The Obamas had been on the island taking their annual summer vacation during the early part of this month, while I was just on the island this past week. And, its rumored that a number of celebrities including Spike Lee, Rosie O’Donnell, David Letterman, Carly Simon, Neil Patrick Harris, Yoko Ono and probably others are said to own a piece of Martha’s Vineyard heaven…and at a very deep pocketed price.

The late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis maintained a home there until her death in 1994 and her son, John F. Kennedy Jr., with his wife and her sister lost their lives in a small plane crash off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in 1999.

Martha’s Vineyard is broken down into six towns and each has its own personality: Tisbury, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah.

Waiting for our turn to drive onto the ferry from Boston’s catch the ferry from Woods Hole, in the town of Falmouth, on Cape Cod, Mass. Aug. 21, 2017
Me on the ferry heading to Martha’s Vineyard on the day of the eclipse from Woods Hole, in the town of Falmouth, on Cape Cod, Mass. Aug. 21, 2017
This 1720 house, which is also the name of the B&B, the 1720 House at Vineyard Haven in the town of Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., was home during my stay on the island. Tisbury, includes the main village of Vineyard Haven, and the West Chop peninsula. Tisbury is the island’s primary port of entry for people and cargo, supplemented by the seasonal port in Oak Bluffs. The house is just a few minutes walk to the ferry, town and beach. The house was built in 1720 and placed at its location on 152 Main Street in 1735. Aug. 22, 2017
The Lincoln Room, my downstairs room, at the 1720 House at Vineyard Haven in the town of Tisdale on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Aug. 21, 2017
The homey living room of the 1720 House where I stayed at while on Vineyard Haven in the town of Tisdale on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Aug. 21, 2017
The view of the harbor from Vineyard Haven in the town of Tisdale on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Aug. 21, 2017
Vineyard Haven Main Street in the town of Tisdale on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Aug. 21, 2017
Vineyard Haven Main Street in the town of Tisdale on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Aug. 21, 2017
The beautiful hydrangea growing that seemingly sprout all over New England and now along the Vineyard Haven Main Street in the town of Tisdale on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Aug. 21, 2017
Phineas and I had a wonderful late lunch/early dinner at The Black Dog Tavern, about a 10 minute walk from our 1720 House B&B, on the Vineyard Haven in the town of Tisdale on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Aug. 21, 2017
Inside The Black Dog Tavern where Phineas and I had a wonderful late lunch/early dinner at Vineyard Haven in the town of Tisdale on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Aug. 21, 2017
This is the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown’s Village Historic District. For my second day on the island, I took a walking tour of the town of Edgartown and learned about the buildings within the historic district primarily represents the period of Edgartown’s growth in the 19th century, featuring the elaborate houses of wealthy ship captains, as well as significant public buildings such as the Dukes County Courthouse and Jail, the Federated Church, and this, the Old Whaling Church. Aug. 22, 2017
The interior of the Old Whaling Church, was built in 1843 by Methodist whaling captains and is regarded for its Greek Revival architecture, in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 22, 2017
The interior of the Old Whaling Church, was built in 1843 by Methodist whaling captains and is regarded for its Greek Revival architecture, in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 22, 2017
The Vincent House, which is a museum on Edgartown dates back to 1672 and is considered the oldest residence by the same family on Martha’s Vineyard. The house consists of five rooms, furnished with period antiques, to depict Island life throughout the last four centuries. Aug. 22, 2017
The interior of the Vincent House, which is a museum on Edgartown dates back to 1672 and is considered the oldest residence by the same family on Martha’s Vineyard. The house consists of five rooms, furnished with period antiques, to depict Island life throughout the last four centuries. Aug. 22, 2017
The interior of the Vincent House, which is a museum on Edgartown dates back to 1672 and is considered the oldest residence by the same family on Martha’s Vineyard. The house consists of five rooms, furnished with period antiques, to depict Island life throughout the last four centuries. Aug. 22, 2017
The gorgeous 1840 Greek Revival style home of Dr. Daniel Fisher is on Edgartown’s Main Street on Martha’s Vineyard. The whaling industry dominated Edgartown during the 19th century and Fisher, an owner of whaling ships, was one of the wealthiest men in the country. Aug. 22, 2017
The Charlotte Inn, built in 1864, in the town of Edgartown is where Jacqueline Kennedy once stayed…but she also had a home in the town of Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 22, 2017
I just loved the look and name of this inn at Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s called Sydney…my beautiful daughter’s name. Aug. 22, 2017
I just loved the look and name of this inn at Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s called Sydney…my beautiful daughter’s name. Aug. 22, 2017
The Main Street of Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 22, 2017
The Federated Church, a Baptist-Congregational church, built in Edgartown in 1828 on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Aug. 22, 2017
Edgartown Town Hall on Main Street on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 22, 2017
Its called a “Scenic View Easement.” A plaque in the area of this easement dated Nov. 4, 2003 states: “The People of Edgartown gratefully acknowledge the generous gift from The Federated Church of Edgartown and the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities Inc. of a view easement in perpetuity across a portion of “The Mayhew Parsonage” property to preserve forever the existing view of the Great Harbor and other water bodies for the enjoyment of all persons who walk along and live on South Water Street.” Aug. 22, 2017
Another view of the “Scenic View Easement” on Edgartown on South Water Street on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 22, 2017
Phineas and I took an afternoon drive to the edge of Martha’s Vineyard to Aquinnah. On the way, through Chilmark, we came across these stone walls. Aug. 22, 2017
Phineas and I took an afternoon drive to the edge of Martha’s Vineyard to Aquinnah. On the way, through Chilmark, we came across these stone walls.Nobody really knows who built many of the walls, but most likely they were a means of demarking the boundary lines of land claims. Aug. 22, 2017
This lighthouse, one of five lighthouses on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, is located on town of Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard. Called the Gay Head Lighthouse, it has always been perilously close to the ever-eroding clay Gay Head cliffs. The red brick lighthouse was built in 1844 to replace a wooden tower authorized by President John Quincy Adams. Aug. 22, 2017
Until 1997 it was called Gay Head. The population was 311 at the 2010 U.S. census. It is known for its beautiful clay cliffs and quiet natural serenity. Below the clay cliffs is Jungle Beach.
Me with the beautiful colored Gay Head clay cliffs behind me in the town of Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 22, 2017
Phineas and me at the beautiful Aquinnah beach, Jungle Beach, on Martha’s Vineyard. A wooden boardwalk leads to this beach where the spectacular clay cliffs can be seen in the background. Although most of the beach is public, the Wampanoag Natives have lived in Aquinnah for more than 5,000 years and own most of the land. Aug. 22, 2017
The beautiful Jungle Beach at Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard. A wooden boardwalk leads to this beach where the spectacular clay cliffs can be seen in the background. Although most of the beach is public, the Wampanoag Natives have lived in Aquinnah for more than 5,000 years and own most of the land. Aug. 22, 2017
Phineas and I enjoyed a big and delicious breakfast at Linda Jean’s Restaurant at Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 23, 2017
Linda Jean’s Restaurant at Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard is a very busy place for breakfast. Aug. 23, 2017
The homey-looking Oak Bluffs Inn located in the heart of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 23, 2017
It was known as “Cottage City” as a way of separating itself from Edgartown until it was renamed and reincorporation as Oak Bluffs in 1907. Me entering the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, a National Historic Landmark, commonly referred to as the The Campground includes these colorful, renowned 1880’s Victorian-style gingerbread-trim cottages.
It was known as “Cottage City” as a way of separating itself from Edgartown until it was renamed and reincorporation as Oak Bluffs in 1907. A National Historic Landmark, the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association, commonly referred to as the The Campground includes these colorful, renowned 1880’s Victorian-style gingerbread-trim cottages. Aug. 23, 2017
It was known as “Cottage City” as a way of separating itself from Edgartown until it was renamed and reincorporation as Oak Bluffs in 1907. A National Historic Landmark, the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association, commonly referred to as the The Campground includes these colorful, renowned 1880’s Victorian-style gingerbread-trim cottages. Aug. 23, 2017
It was known as “Cottage City” as a way of separating itself from Edgartown until it was renamed and reincorporation as Oak Bluffs in 1907. A National Historic Landmark, the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association, commonly referred to as the The Campground includes these colorful, renowned 1880’s Victorian-style gingerbread-trim cottages. Aug. 23, 2017
It was known as “Cottage City” as a way of separating itself from Edgartown until it was renamed and reincorporation as Oak Bluffs in 1907. A National Historic Landmark, the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association, commonly referred to as the The Campground includes these colorful, renowned 1880’s Victorian-style gingerbread-trim cottages. Aug. 23, 2017
I’m standing at the porch of one of the ornate Victorian-style gingerbread trim cottages, on what is known as The Campground site in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. About 300 or so of the original 500 cottages remain as part of the 34-acre Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association or The Campgrounds, it was the first summer religious camp established in the United States. Aug. 23, 2017
The Tabernacle in existence since 1870 is at the center of the 34-acre Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association or The Campgrounds. It is surrounded by ornate Victorian-style gingerbread trim cottages in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 23, 2017
The town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard has been a popular destination for affluent African Americans since the early 20th century. And, the African American Heritage of Martha’s Vineyard co-founded by Elaine Calley Weintraub (the second woman to the front left of the photo with the black t-shirt on) and Carrie Camille Tankard (not pictured in this photo) conducts tours of some 27 commemorated sites of the historical contributions of people of color. The group I was with for the 2-hour plus tour were from various parts of the U.S. Although the tour was full, I honestly begged Elaine…who graciously consented…to fit me into the tour. And, I’m so grateful that she did. Our tour group is standing in front of the newly renovated vacation home of Emma Maitland Chambers (1893-1975), an unusual woman who became a teacher, traveled abroad as a stage performer, danced on New York City stages, became a champion boxer and later fulfilled her ambition of becoming a nurse. Aug. 23, 2017
Many of the country’s most affluent African-American families have enjoyed a century-old tradition of summering on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Concentrated primarily in and around the town of Oak Bluffs, and the East Chop area, these families have historically represented the black elite from Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York City. Today, affluent families from around the country have taken to the Vineyard, and the community is known as a popular summer destination for judges, physicians, business executives, surgeons, attorneys, writers, politicians, and professors. This house, on the Martha’s Vineyard African American Heritage trail tour, was the summer home of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (1908-1972), a Baptist minister and U.S. Congressman, from 1937 to 1944 and his then wife, Isabel Washington Powell who lived there from 1937 until her death in 2007. Aug. 23, 2017
Down the street from Adam Clayton Powell Jr.’s home in the Oak Bluffs town on Martha’s Vineyard is the home of Harlem Renaissance writer and MV resident, Dorothy West (1907-1998). At the age of 85, West finished a second novel, entitled “The Wedding” which touches on the subjects of marriage, race, prejudice, class, and family in 1950s Martha’s Vineyard. Oprah Winfrey turned the novel into a two-part television miniseries. Aug. 23, 2017
These are the kinds of plaques that commemorate some 27 sites along what is known as the Martha’s Vineyard African American Heritage Trail dedicated to the achievements and contributions of people of color on the island. This plaque adorns the former home of Senator Edward Brooke, the first African American popularly elected to the United States Senate, in the town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. Jeh Johnson, the fourth United States Secretary of Homeland Security from 2013 to 2017 under President Barack Obama’s administration, is the current owner of the Brooke residence. Aug. 23, 2017
This plaque adorns the former home of Senator Edward Brooke, the first African American popularly elected to the United States Senate, in the town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. Jeh Johnson, the fourth United States Secretary of Homeland Security from 2013 to 2017 under President Barack Obama’s administration, is the current owner of the Brooke residence. Aug. 23, 2017
Also on the African American Heritage Trail is the Shearer Cottage purchased by Charles and Henrietta Shearer. It was originally operated as a laundry facility and later became the first African American-owned guest house on Martha’s Vineyard with such notables guests as singer and actress, Ethel Waters and performer and activist Paul Robeson. Aug. 23, 2017
Also on the African American Heritage Trail is the Shearer Cottage purchased by Charles and Henrietta Shearer. It was originally operated as a laundry facility and later became the first African American-owned guest house on Martha’s Vineyard with such notables guests as singer and actress, Ethel Waters and performer and activist Paul Robeson. Aug. 23, 2017
The Baptist Temple Park, where religious revivals once took place, at Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 23, 2017
This house on 121 Lower Circuit and the one next to it in the town of Oak Bluffs on on Martha’s Vineyard are called the Landladies on the African American Heritage Trail because Georgia O’Brien and Louisa Izett ran a guest house for people of color. The Inn was once known as Aunt Georgia’s House. Aug. 23, 2017
This house next to 121 Lower Circuit in the town of Oak Bluffs on on Martha’s Vineyard are called the Landladies on the African American Heritage Trail because Georgia O’Brien and Louisa Izett ran a guest house for people of color. The Inn was once known as Aunt Georgia’s House. Aug. 23, 2017
From the town of Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard you can see and get to the island of Chappaquiddick. Edgartown, noted for its rich whaling tradition, is also the island’s largest town by population and area. The Chappaquiddick Wampanaog, the island Natives, once inhabited the entire island of Chappaquiddic but the Wampanoag endured encroachment of their lands and discrimination from colonial times and throughout the late 1800s. Chappaquiddick also has the distinction of being the burial ground of the only African-American Whaling Captain, William A. Martin. Born into poverty on Edgartown in 1829 to 20-year-old Rebecca, Martin eventually became involved in the maritime trade. He eventually married Sarah Brown, a Native American woman from Chappaquiddick. The island also has the distinction of receiving international notoriety after the July 18, 1969, incident in which Mary Jo Kopechne was killed in a car driven off a bridge by U.S. Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy. Aug. 23, 2017
Along the Memorial Wharf harbor on Edgartown and across from the island of Chappaquiddick are these former Edgartown homes of the whaling captains on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 23, 2017
Elaine Cawley Weintraub (to the left) co-founder of the African American Heritage of Martha’s Vineyard, standing on a deck, along the Memorial Wharf on Edgartown, across from the island of Chappaquiddick, talks about the history of the Wampanaog Natives who once inhabited the entire island of Chappaquiddick and the life of the first African-American Whaling Captain, William Martin who is lived on and is buried on the island of Chappaquiddick. Aug. 23, 2017
This African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard plaque, along the Memorial Wharf in Edgartown, honors Nancy Michael. Nancy (1772-1856), a former slave, had a seemingly mysterious reputation as someone attentive to the wants of children, a “conjure woman” and as someone who was feared in the seafaring community of Edgartown. Aug. 23, 2017
The Oak Bluffs Harbor in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 23, 2017
These colorful gingerbread cottages along Lake Avenue have a wonderful view of the Oak Bluffs Harbor on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 23, 2017
These colorful gingerbread cottages along Lake Avenue have a wonderful view of the Oak Bluffs Harbor on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 23, 2017
Nancy’s Restaurant along Lake Avenue and the Oak Bluffs Harbor on Martha’s Vineyard. Aug. 23, 2017
We spent our last night on Martha’s Vineyard admiring the sunset vfrom Nancy’s Restaurant harbor view deck in the town of Oak Bluffs. I can see why the people who live here, love it and I can also see why the people who visit here, come back, because I can definitely see myself coming back. Aug. 23, 2017 

2 Replies to “Martha’s Vineyard…so much more than its “hoity-toity” image”

  1. It looks like you and phineas had a SPLENDID time hanging out at Martha’s Vineyard. Pinkies up! I love the selfie of you with the gay head cliffs behind. You’re smile is contagious.

Leave a Reply

Feel free to say hello or leave a comment

Thank you for reaching out.