The Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company reached its demise following a period of National economic malaise and the Vineyard Grove Company was able to buy its remnants at pennies on the dollar. Literally.

On May 3, 1885 The New York Times published that “the Sea View House and land with wharf adjoining, octagonal restaurant, 280 bathing houses, the land on which the skating rink and carousel are standing, and the entire shore of Oak Bluffs, comprising the strip of land east of Sea View avenue” was acquired at auction by the Vineyard Grove Company for $32,000, a fraction of the 1866 investment of $300,000.

The Vineyard Grove Company was founded in 1868 by investors from Oak Bluffs’ Methodist community to protect the Camp Ground from the secular activities of the new part of town. In 1895 the Vineyard Grove Company sought to build a "pavilion" over what we know as Town Beach, a move vigorously opposed by the adjoining homeowners. The "pavilion" was to include stores and amusements—out of character for the Camp Ground but well within the temporal limits of Cottage City.

Vineyard Grove held their purchase as inclusive, especially the section of beach that at one time had graced a bathing tower, a railroad and bath houses. That led to a lawsuit, the homeowners (plaintifs) believing the sale included covenants precluding building that blocked views and that the beach was dedicated as open space. The defendants argued there could be no dedicated ‘view’ where structures had been before the acquisition.

In a “temperate, clearly phrased summary” Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes found for the plaintiffs. Not only was the open space dedicated to the public but the view of the sea from the bluff was a valid part of it. Peace prevailed for a number of years but the issue resurfaced again after Lake Anthony was opened to the sea, destroying the 3,500 foot wooden boardwalk. The land was sold for cottages built along the shore. That time the company prevailed. Today those are the homes and buildings behind Our Market along East Chop Drive.

A combination of community professionals representing all aspects of the issue of addiction are hosting a forum Monday, June 6, at the MVRHS Performing Arts Center from 7 to 9 p.m. Experts in the field will discuss the disease of addiction, recovery and the steps of forming a community coalition.

Congratulations to Alison Shaw. This is her 40th anniversary as a professional photographer on Martha’s Vineyard and the 10th season of the Alison Shaw Gallery. Two celebrations will be held — save the dates of July 9 and August 6. Throughout the summer, new and old pieces will be hung to highlight Alison’s outstanding career so far.

On August 4, 5 and 6, the Oak Bluffs Public Library will hold its first annual African American Literature and Culture Festival featuring a host of Oak Bluffs’ talented figures from the arts. These include food meister Jessica Harris, art historian Cheryl Finley, and writer, professor and attorney Charles Ogletree among others. An exhibition of Cutie Bowles’ art is planned along with an appreciation of the Cottagers on their 60th Anniversary. All activities are free to the public.

This all greets us in advance of the Smithsonian Institute’s opening of the National African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington in September. There is quite a bit of anticipation for its new Oak Bluffs exhibit. Our new library director Allyson Malik, along with Nate Luce and the whole library crew, have game.

Remember, if you’d like to see Stan Nelson receive his Peabody Award (and Dave Letterman), the 75th anniversary Peabody Awards show airs on Monday, June 6, at 8 p.m. on Pivot, Comcast cable channel 231.

Memorial Day Sunday was a beautiful day for the beautiful ceremony of the life of Shearer Cottage’s David Van Allen with his beautiful family. Rest in peace.

Edible Vineyard magazine has an historic picture including Gretchen Tucker Underwood, Olive Tomlinson and several others who catered a celebration for Dorothy West’s novel, The Wedding.

Questions have arisen at Town Beach, such as will the basic wooden steps at the Inkwell be upgraded to match the new ones at Pay Beach, and will the tractor-pulled beach rake be employed on all parts of Town Beach? Probably.

Vanessa has returned to Farm Pond for the season.

Amazingly, our neighbors in West Tisbury may have identified someone to restore the Island Theatre for us.

Keep your foot on a rock.

Send Oak Bluffs news to