Oak Bluffs in Massachusetts

Friday, 29 April 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
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© flickr.com - Michele Schaffer/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – Michele Schaffer/cc-by-2.0

Oak Bluffs is a town located on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 5,341 at the 2020 United States Census. It is one of the island’s principal points of arrival for summer tourists, and is noted for its “gingerbread cottages” and other well-preserved mid- to late-nineteenth-century buildings. The town has been a historically important center of African American culture since the eighteenth century.

Some of the earliest visitors to the area that became Cottage City and later Oak Bluffs were Methodists, who gathered in the oak grove known as Wesleyan Grove each summer for multi-day religious “camp meetings” held under large tents and in the open air. As families returned to the grove year after year, tents pitched on the ground gave way to tents pitched on wooden platforms and eventually to small wooden cottages. Small in scale and closely packed, the cottages grew more elaborate over time. Porches, balconies, elaborate door and window frames became common, as did complex wooden scrollwork affixed to the roof edges as decorative trim. The unique “gingerbread” or “Carpenter’s Gothic” architectural style of the cottages was often accented by the owner’s use of bright, multi-hue paint schemes, and gave the summer cottages a quaint, almost storybook look. Dubbed “gingerbread cottages,” they became a tourist attraction in their own right in the late nineteenth century. So, too, did the Tabernacle: a circular, open-sided pavilion covered by a metal roof supported by tall wrought iron columns, erected in the late 1880s, which became a venue for services and community events. The campground’s gingerbread cottages are cherished historic landmarks as well as very expensive real estate. Many are still family owned and passed on generation to generation. The cottages and the Tabernacle were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, recognized in 2000 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and declared a National Historic Landmark by the US Department of the Interior in 2005.

East Chop Lighthouse © flickr.com - m01229/cc-by-2.0 Ocean Park gazebo © flickr.com - FaceMePLS/cc-by-2.0 Oak Bluffs Fishing Pier © Jwgetchell/cc-by-3.0 © Library of Congress - Carol M. Highsmith © Library of Congress - Carol M. Highsmith © Elkman/cc-by-sa-3.0 © flickr.com - m01229/cc-by-2.0 © flickr.com - Michele Schaffer/cc-by-2.0 © Le grand Cricri/cc-by-sa-3.0 © LisaHendricks/cc-by-sa-3.0
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East Chop Lighthouse © flickr.com - m01229/cc-by-2.0
Nineteenth-century tourists, arriving by steamer from the mainland, could also choose from a wide range of secular attractions: shops, restaurants, ice cream parlors, dance halls, band concerts, walks along seaside promenades, or swims in the waters of Nantucket Sound. Resort hotels, of which the Wesley House is the sole surviving example, lined the waterfront and the bluffs. For a time, a narrow-gauge railway carried curious travelers from the steamship wharf in Oak Bluffs to Edgartown, running along tracks laid on what is now Joseph Sylvia State Beach. In 1884, the Flying Horses Carousel was brought to Oak Bluffs from Coney Island and installed a few blocks inland from the ocean, where it remains in operation today. Built in 1876, it is the oldest platform carousel still in operation. Like the grounds and buildings of the Campground (so designated in April 2005), the Flying Horses were designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior. In 1873 the neighboring community of Harthaven was established by William H. Hart when he purchased a lot from the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company. The community later moved in 1911 to its present location between Oak Bluffs town and Edgartown.

The “Grand Illumination” is a yearly event, usually held in August, the date of which is not always publicly disclosed. For the 2012 summer events, there was an open Cottage Tour, of the National Historical Registered homes, on Wednesday, August 8, and Grand Illumination Night on Wednesday, August 15. Martha’s Vineyard, Oak Bluffs and the Campground events attract many tourists. For one special night, residents of the Campground place ornate Chinese lanterns (some electric, some still lit with just a candle), around each Gingerbread Cottage. The lanterns remain dark until after dusk. At an appointed hour, people gather in the Tabernacle for a sing-along and community gathering. At the end all the lights go out and thousands of Chinese lanterns spring to life in a brilliant cascade of light throughout the campground. The celebration ends after visitors walk through the Campground enjoying the sights and sounds of an event taken straight from the mid 1800s.

Read more on Oak Bluffs, Wikivoyage Oak Bluffs and Wikipedia Oak Bluffs (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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