Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard

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A really fun day trip is to take the Island Queen ferry from Falmouth MA to Martha’s Vineyard-this particular ferry drops you in Oak Bluffs. Here is some history of the town:

Oak Bluffs was first settled by Europeans in 1642 and was part of Edgartown until 1880, when it was officially incorporated as Cottage City. Oak Bluffs was the only one of the six towns on the island to be consciously planned, and the only one developed specifically with tourism in mind.
In 1866 Robert Morris Copeland was hired by a group of New England developers to design a planned residential community in Martha’s Vineyard. The site, a large, rolling, treeless pasture overlooking Vineyard Sound, was adjacent to the immensely popular Methodist camp meeting, Wesleyan Grove, a curving network of narrow streets lined with quaint “Carpenter’s Gothic” cottages, picket fences, and pocket parks. Seeking to take advantage of the camp’s seasonal popularity (and overflowing population), the developers established Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company, gaining immediate success: Five hundred lots were sold between 1868 and 1871. Copeland would end up creating three plans for the community to accommodate its constant expansion. Oak Bluffs is the one of the earliest planned residential communities and largely informed later suburban development in the United States.
Some of the earliest visitors to the area that became Cottage City and later Oak Bluffs were Methodists, who gathered in the oak 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 “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. On April 5, 2005, the grounds and buildings in the Campground were designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior.
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. 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.

Thoreau and Climate Change

imagesPortrait of Bill McKibben, author and activist. photo ©Nancie Battagliaphoto by Cherrie Corey

“I soon found myself observing when plants first blossomed and leafed, and I followed it up early and late, far and near, several years in succession….”
Henry Thoreau, Journal, 1856

In Concord, Massachusetts, spring is coming earlier. Using plant flowering data collected by one of Concord’s most famous residents, Henry Thoreau, from 1852–1860, Boston University biology professor Richard Primack and his team of graduate students have found that, on average, spring flowers in Concord bloomed a full twenty days earlier in 2012 than in Thoreau’s time—and their statistics clearly show a close relationship between flowering times and rising winter and spring temperatures.

Early Spring: Henry Thoreau and Climate Change, a ground-breaking exhibition at the Concord Museum from April 12 through September 15, 2013, explores three centuries of careful observation of seasonal natural phenomena in Concord, a pool of data on the relationship between climate and biology that is essentially without parallel in North America. The exhibition also provides an extraordinary opportunity to examine the Concord Museum’s renowned Thoreau collection that includes the desk on which Thoreau wrote Walden, together with examples of his original field notes, journal recordings, seasonal charts, and botanical specimens. This material has never before been exhibited together.

Henry Thoreau (1817–1862) is one of the most read, beloved, and influential of American authors. He thought and wrote expansively about the natural world in a way that has, since his time, come to be called ecological. For the last ten years of his life, he devoted a portion of every day to a large-scale project to gather and analyze data on the changing phenomena of the seasons. He measured snow depth, watched for the day when the ice melted off Walden Pond, noted the arrival of songbirds in the spring, and above all, recorded the first flowering time for hundreds of plant species in Concord. “I often visited a particular plant four or five miles distant, half a dozen times within a fortnight, that I might know exactly when it opened,” Thoreau wrote in his journal.

The exhibition draws upon the Concord Museum’s unparalleled Thoreau collection of 250 objects, preserved by the Museum for more than a century. The collection includes the humble green desk at which Henry Thoreau wrote, his Walden bedstead, his snowshoes, spyglass, walking stick notched for measuring snow, and his copy of Wilson’s American Ornithology. These icons of American literary and natural history will be exhibited together with rare historical material—Thoreau’s seasonal charts, field notes, and journal—on loan from The Morgan Library and Museum. Additionally on view will be examples of Thoreau’s own herbarium specimens from the Harvard University Herbaria, and Thoreau’s flute book used for pressing plants, on loan from the Louisa May Alcott Memorial Association.

Thoreau’s choice of Concord as a subject was emulated by a continuum of naturalists, some amateur and some professional, in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. The observations of these citizen scientists—carefully recorded over many years—now form an invaluable resource for scientists interested in the topic of climate change. Dr. Richard Primack, Professor of Biology at Boston University and Guest Scholar for the exhibition, has successfully used the data collected by Thoreau and later Concordians as comparatives to sets of data that he and his graduate students have been actively collecting in Concord since 2008. The work of the Primack Lab is a cornerstone of the Early Spring exhibition.

Lamp Shades-Joan Peters’ Toiles

These toile prints are adorable on lamp shades. They come in many colors and are of Boston,Nantucket ,Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard. We can make any shape or size for you at Concord Lamp and Shade in Concord MA. Joan Peters is out of Osterville,MA on the Cape and is famous for her fabrics which are all original.

Blowin’ in the breeze curtains

These curtains are wonderful -inexpensive,easy to clean(wash and dry) and to me say summer and relaxation.

They are called narrow ruffle,perma-press in white and can be ordered at Country Curtains.

The Charlotte Inn in Edgartown-Martha’s Vineyard

This is the Charlotte Inn in Edgartown, on Martha’s Vineyard. We go there every year for our anniversary.It is by far the nicest,most beautiful hotel we have ever stayed in.Every detail is looked after. The gardens are incredible!