If you have ever wanted to step inside one of the colorful gingerbread cottages that are a signature of Oak Bluffs and its historic Camp Ground, then tomorrow is the ideal time. The Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association will host the 17th Camp Ground Cottage Tour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, a self-guided experience that includes a walk through seven wonderful Camp Ground cottages and the Cottage Museum. The $25 admission fee benefits the Tabernacle Restoration Fund.

Cottages on the tour this year are on and near Clinton avenue, the boulevard of the Camp Ground and an area that features larger homes with open floor plans and yards (one even has a garage). One of the cottages featured this year has been in the same family for several generations and has interesting ties to the Flying Horses carousel. Another is occupied by an original Camp Ground family descendant, while two others have relatively new owners.

The cottages on the tour this year follow.

19 Butler avenue. — unspecified

19 Butler avenue, Christine and Jim Marquis

Purchased in 2010, this home is probably what most visitors expect a typical Camp Ground cottage to look like. Its narrow Gothic windows have original blue and red glass inserts in the front parlor, and the house features tongue and groove walls and a set of steep, narrow stairs. The remains of the upper porch brackets are visible beneath the porch roof.

5 Clinton avenue. — unspecified

5 Clinton avenue, Kathy Sullivan and Michael Hotalin

Built in 1868, this cottage has been in Kathy’s family for over 40 years. Original tongue and groove boards are clearly visible throughout the house. The living room features double doors and Romanesque windows with eyebrows. The dining room table is in a bump-out that was not a part of the original cottage. The kitchen was remodeled in 2006 in what was the former dining room and a utility room occupies what once was a kitchen. Although the family has done extensive remodeling to make the cottage more functional, many of the original features are still present.

7 Clinton avenue. — unspecified

7 Clinton avenue, Caitlin and Peter McNally

Many of the original features of the McNally cottage are visible only from the inside, including beautiful pine floors and tongue and groove boards on the walls. Walls in the dining room were removed to open up the kitchen, which now features Ikea cabinets. The walls going up the stairs and in the master bedroom have painted panels.

8 Clinton avenue. — unspecified

8 Clinton avenue, Doreen and Jamison Schiff

The Schiffs are new members of the Camp Ground and bought their cottage this past spring. The house features an open front porch, a sleeping porch downstairs and a covered sitting porch on the second floor. The living room has a beautiful original oak fireplace, and the owners have added many pieces of antique oak period furniture. There is an original stained glass window in the stairwell.

14 Clinton avenue. — unspecified

14 Clinton avenue, Susan and Keith Glab

Susan’s family has owned a cottage in the Camp Ground for over 100 years. Nine years ago, she and Keith bought this house around the corner from the one where she grew up. Although they have made some changes, such as adding air conditioning, the cottage, built in 1871, has many original features both inside and out. Tongue and groove boards have battens covering their junctions on the exterior surface. Gothic windows have crosses painted on the interior side of the inserts. The dining room has a beautiful dark oak fireplace surrounded by decorative tiles and a tile hearth. There is also an original pressed-glass Gothic door in the dining room.

31 Clinton avenue, Pat Turnell Steward

Pat Steward’s eight-room cottage has been in her family since 1910. Her mother married Chester Turnell, whose family owned the Flying Horses until 1950, which explains the carousel memorabilia displayed in the cottage. The lower and upper porches on the cottage are spectacular, painted with historic colors which match the shades found in pillows on the porch. Eyebrows which used to be on the downstairs windows were found under the house and incorporated into the gingerbread on the upper porch.

The house also has three original ripple glass windows. Two cottages were put together about 100 years ago to make this very large (at least by Camp Ground standards) house.

35 Clinton avenue. — unspecified

35 Clinton avenue, Marilyn and John Freeman

Marilyn Freeman is a member of one of the original Camp Ground families. Her sister occupies the family home in Victorian Park and a cousin lives in another cottage up the street. The Freeman cottage, built in 1868, has six Gothic windows with cranberry glass inserts, gingerbread fans between the two parts of the living room and a working fireplace. A full bath is found on each floor and there is also a garage and a large backyard, rare Camp Ground amenities.

old photo
Clinton avenue, circa 1870. — unspecified


The Camp Ground cottage tour runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (the last ticket will be sold at 2 p.m.). Admission includes a self-guided tour of the cottages, admission to the cottage museum and delicious refreshments. Tickets may be purchased at the Tabernacle on the day of the tour, at the Cottage Museum in advance and day of the tour or via Paypal at MVCMA.org.