The legacy Samuel Freeman Pratt (1824-1920) left to Oak Bluffs is inestimable. We know little about his early life (his father was a carpenter) but his midlife was spent as an architect when he designed some of Martha’s Vineyard’s most engaging structures between 1870 and 1872. Samuel Pratt designed the gateway to the wharf in Oak Bluffs, the first and most majestic Sea View Hotel, the Arcade on Circuit avenue (our first building), a band pavilion on Sea View avenue (long gone), the architecturally significant, octagonal shaped Union Chapel and about 18 private homes, 12 of which remain. Mr. Pratt had no known architectural training. and other than those buildings, designed only three others — two hotels at Katama and on New York’s Shelter Island, and his own home in Newport, R.I. That was the whole of this remarkable man’s architectural career.

He became wealthy from a sewing machine patent and lived many more years in Newport as a gentleman of leisure. Those who recall the early landscape maps of the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company designed by Robert Morris Copeland will remember the sample homes for sale on them. These were the work of Mr. Pratt. His work is characterized as having a dynamic and festive style, similar to 16th-century French secular buildings. Architectural historian Ellen Weiss describes the structures as sharing “activated skylines with jerkinhead gables, candle snuffers, steep-hipped roofs, finials, dormers, and eaves that kick out, bending roof and dormer lines at their edges in a lilting fashion.”

He specialized in mansard roofs, where the second or third floor roof lines were less sharp than those at the top in an effort to increase interior room size and affect a taller look for otherwise small homes. Over the years most of the remaining 12 have been severely modified and are difficult to recognize. You can see Pratt-designed homes on Canonicus, Tuckernuck, Massasoit, Narragansett and most easily on Samoset, beginning with the Samoset on the Sound guesthouse on the corner of Sea View. I drive up or down one of these streets almost every day, not so much to see the homes as to revel in living in a place with homes as rare as gemstones. Samuel Freeman Pratt was truly a genius.

If you’re looking for a way to thwart the vacuous new TV season during these Ichabod Crane-like nights ending waning days, get Ellen Weiss’ book, City in the Woods. If you can’t get it at one of our local bookstores it’s available on Amazon at prices ranging from $6 used to up to $45 for a collectible. West Tisbury’s Weiss’ book tells the tale of our town from the Camp Ground to Cottage City, has a fulsome bibliography and is fascinating.

Farm Neck Golf Course replaced the Island Country Club in 1979. Ten years later it formed the Farm Neck Foundation with a mission of giving back to the community. Faithful to its mission, it reached a milestone this year in donating over a million dollars to Island charities and civic organizations. Congratulations — and thank you — to Farm Neck, all of its contributors and president Timothy D. Sweet.

Congratulations to East Chop’s Lauren Kroll whose daughter Mallory Beth’s hand was given to Michael James Whyte at the East Chop Beach Club on Sept. 20. Mallory, summering in Oak Bluffs for almost 30 years, joined many when she accepted her proposal at the Inkwell. Her wedding jewelry was formed from beach glass found on our beaches since 1988.

Booktoberfest kicks off tomorrow at the library with crafts for kids from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Different crafts are offered each week. Next Friday the library features spooky stories and a visit to the cemetery starting at 3:45 p.m.

On Monday from 5 to 8 p.m., Lola’s is hosting an artists’ reception combining dancing, painting and Moroccan refreshments. Featured are pastel and egg tempera landscapes by Marsha Winsryg and oil and mixed media blues portraits by Basia Jaworski Silva. DJ Sean will be playing the music starting at 7 p.m.

A reminder that ACE MV’s fall classes start next week. You can register online at

Got pumpkins and candy? Halloween’s coming.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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