An Edgartown pioneer dating back to 1742 is all that survives of the five great oak tree trunks, rough-hewn, which were one of the distinctive features of the entrance to the Great Harbour Inn. The corner post toward North Water street is still one of the original set, but for various reasons and particularly the fact that Kelley street has been raised from time to time, it seemed best to replace the others. Originally there were five of these huge posts, but two were replaced some time ago when the stairs were added.
Fortunately, Richard L. Colter, proprietor of the inn, saw fit to use as replacements, “good Massachusetts pine,” and to see that they, too, have the hand-hewn look of the originals, so all is well. They have been firmly set upon a brick base and should be good for years.
According to Mr. Colter, he traced the history of the inn, which was the Sea View House before it was the Kelley House, the name it bore for many years before it became the Great Harbour Inn. With the aid of the late Marshall Shepard, then the president of Dukes County Historical Society, he came to the conclusion that the date 1742 was actually the year in which this oldest of Vineyard inns was constructed, and that the posts were part of the original edifice. The hand-hewn rafters and floor timbers, put together with wooden pegs, remain as further evidence.
Mr. Colter has a picture of the inn as it had been when it was called the Sea View, showing the famous William Kelley, whose name it later bore for many years, on the porch, and with him, the present Mrs. Walter S. Beatty and her brother, the late Gerald Pease.
The inn is undergoing a partial renovation at the moment, with six of the bedrooms being treated to new paper and paint, and with new linoleum and paint in the bathrooms.
When the inn opens a week from today, Mr. Colter says that Harry B. Smith of New Jersey and Edgartown has promised to be on hand as the first guest, according to his traditional custom.