Alas, with the halls decked out for the holidays all around town, I’m chagrined that Circuit avenue’s historic next door neighbor, the Camp Ground isn’t too — imagine that fairyland festooned with lights! That’s only due to the seasonal nature of the original City in the Woods. With few exceptions, tents built for prayer blossomed into charming wooden summer cottages that have gone lacking for winterization.

Disappointingly, the Camp Ground has a paucity of people to decorate its most Christmassy place. Earlier this year, noting it was for sale and having promised a story, I found local historian Mary Jane Carpenter had written a nice piece for the Vineyard Gazette Real Estate section of its website about the Camp Ground’s heralded Pink House. The iconic home is among the most photographed Island wide and even in our age of email, most deservedly remains a postcard.

Architectural historian Ellen Weiss would describe this heirloom as a wood frame home with tongue-and-groove vertical boarding. A Camp Ground cottage of cross gable Gothic design with decorative pediment and balustrades and post and bracket construction. I’ve seen a more general description — inclusive of the whole original development — Camp Ground Gothic revival, often termed America’s only original architecture. Such probable hyperbole could be expected from your Oak Bluffs scribe.

In the whimsical manner of OB, though, we just call it the Pink House, and everyone knows which one it is despite Mary Jane Carpenter pointing out that there are actually nine pink houses of varying degrees of pinkness. The Pink House on the corner of Butler and Jordan Crossing has pink siding, deeper pink trim and pink throughout the inside. Mrs. Carpenter’s research notes the house wasn’t always pink. Town records say it was built in 1870, the real estate listing said 1868 and Carpenter — who is probably correct — says it was built from 1864 to 1868 as one of the earliest Camp Ground homes.

Pink may have been frivolous in the early religious Camp Ground days if not as scandalous as Mrs. Carpenter’s story tells us: “The first owner, whose name is unknown to me, was the one who embellished it with many types of fancy jigsaw trimmings, which don’t match each other. There are two very old stories told about this trim. One is that the first owner had an affair with the carpenter who did all the trim work around the Camp Ground and he gave her the trim cuttings. The other is that the woman got all the trim at the dump and attached it to her house.”

If you’re interested, you should go to our website,, and in the search box type Pink House to read the interesting article for an introduction to past owners Lillian Cotton (1940s), Jean Spencer (1950s), Jean VanVliet Spencer (who first painted the house pink) and Anita and Jack Welles. The Welleses signed the offering letter for the cottage appropriately enough on a Valentine’s Day. The next owner was from Falmouth and delighted in coming over on the ferry to her pink cottage. The Pink House has a new owner following its sale on Sept. 2, 2014 after being on the market for 350 days. A warm welcome to the new folks from Texas.

Mrs. Carpenter and I share a view on the Pink House; it could have been Hansel and Gretel’s! She expands on her warm story wondering “are there any fairy godmothers or elves, even, who reside in the Oak Bluffs Camp Ground?” Our magical coterie of gingerbread cottages isn’t peopled during the most wonderful time of the year, so there aren’t many decorated with lights. Of course the few that are, are adorable. The same is true of the Cottage City Historic District: few people, few lights. An exception is the Pachico home at the corner of Narragansett and Naumkeag avenues, displaying its vision with a sugar plum, fairyland yard.

Memories of Illumination nights past will have to sustain over the holidays as we look forward to the next season and the glow of lanterns in the, by then, much warmer darkness.

I hope your 2014 has been the best year of your past and the worst of your future — taking time off during the holidays I (and the column) will be back next year! Be careful what you imbibe, ingest or inhale and enjoy a fun, fulfilling season of giving. Have a merry and a happy and . . .

Keep your foot on a rock.

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