Transfer of the equity in the historic Kelley House, Edgartown, to Richard L. Colter, proprietor of the Mansion House, Vineyard Haven, was made this week, a change of ownership that still retains the ancient inn in the family of its beloved proprietor, Mrs. E. A. Kelley, who conducted the house for years after the death of her husband, William Kelley, famed in his day as a host.
The present owner, Mr. Colter, came to Edgartown as a young boy and made his home with Mrs. Kelley, his aunt. For seventeen years he was a member of the hotel staff, and even after leaving the Kelley House to operate his own hotel, the Mansion House, he was associated closely with Mrs. Kelley. By the will of Mrs. Kelley, who died more than a year ago, a part of her property went to Mr. Colter, who has now acquired the shares of other heirs.

Will Operate Both Hotels

Mr. Colter, the builder of the Elm Theater and Edgartown Garage, both in Edgartown, will operate the two hotels which he now owns. The Kelley House will be operated as a summer hotel for six months of the year, and Mr. Colter will manage this house, returning to the Mansion House during the remainder of the year.
The Kelley House is one of the oldest of Island commercial structures, having been established as an inn in 1742 when it was called The Tavern. It is not known whether or not this was the first “public house” on the Vineyard, but it is recorded that no inns were established on the Vineyard until after all nearby mainland towns had established inns and taverns in accordance with law, and it may be that this ancient landmark is the first house to be so designated in the county, a survival of that period in Vineyard history when the traditional New England hospitality was so extensive that inns were unnecessary.