East Chop’s Chris Rowan located an interesting old postcard of a house we’re not quite sure of with a sign, Bellevue, and handwritten notes saying “Sanitarium, Oak Bluffs, Mass” and “Temahigan Road.”

We believe it was the Bellevue Hotel which, combined with the street name, significantly narrows the location to the tract developed by Tarleton Cadwallader Luce in 1872 as Bellevue Heights. I think there was a Belleview hotel on the Lagoon (1906-1920’s) probably near where the Prospect House at Lagoon Heights that burned down in 1898. It had a wharf and a trolley stop.

Google indicates there was an Attleboro and Martha’s Vineyard Sanitarium that promoted the Harborview Sanitarium with a summer season in Cottage City from June to October from 1880 to around 1909. Patients were treated over the winter at the Attleboro location. Dr. Laura V. Gustin-Mackie was in charge of the Oak Bluffs institution that could care for 15 patients. We now presume what is pictured to have been the Bellevue may have been the Harborview Sanitarium, which it seems would have been in Bellevue Heights (and not on the lagoon).

Advertisements in medical journals described it as “An institute of physiologic therapeutics and rational medicine” and “A Sanitarium by the sea, offering home comforts for convalescents, neurasthenics and weary brain workers . . . . Where tired folks get rested, where sick folks get well.”

They ominously added the disclaimer, “No insane or tuberculosis cases received.”

Almost all of the Google references are annoying listings in almanacs and medical directories. I had to look up neurasthenics, which symptoms include chronic physical and mental fatigue, weakness and general aches and pains that back then was considered to have resulted from exhaustion of the nervous system but is now a psychological disorder.

I wonder if we suffer some psychological disorder ourselves in not resolving the conditions of the Island Theatre. Doing nothing and expecting different results seems to perpetuate what used to be called insanity. Indeed, a 1989 letter from a former chairman of the selectman to the editor of the Gazette describes it as “covered by asphalt shingles that are crumbling and falling off. The deterioration of this building, which is the gateway to Oak Bluffs, has created a major eyesore. Lack of care for any building which has such a great presence on the whole Circuit avenue is completely unacceptable....”

That was 28 years ago. Today it looks even worse with its broken poster frames, peeling paint and now, absent the shingles, exposed concrete blocks. There has been discussion on social media that tearing it down would expose passersby’s to the unattractive back sides of adjacent buildings. I’m not certain, but think an attractive wall could be built with a mural and/or some foliage to hide that for less than the $200,000 proposed to shore the place up. And its patently obvious the owners don’t feel the need to do even that. Would I like to see the fourth or fifth oldest theatre in America torn down? No, not really, and my appreciation of our history extends to each of these columns I’ve written since June 2012. But it is intolerable that one of the prettiest towns in America should have this (removable) wart on its nose. Virtually every building on Circuit avenue has been renovated, updated or painted. The Island Theatre seems to have lived its life and it is perhaps time it joined its ancestors.

Dr. Harry N. Seymour is showing his painting, “Legacy of Privilege” at the Featherstone Center for the Arts until March 30. The painting reflects a historical contextualization of nursing during slavery portraying the privilege of one group of humans over another. On Tuesday at the community services family center there will be a discussion on Baby’s First Feeding with Marney Toole for expectant parents. The talk will include nutrition, child development, breast and bottle feeding, pumping and milk storage. The group is held Tuesday afternoons from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Keep your foot on a rock.

Send Oak Bluffs news to sfinley@mvgazette.com.