From the Jan. 12, 1962 edition of the Gazette:

The little old fashioned sloop which is being built at the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, Vineyard Haven, has begun to take shape. The completed keel, of pasture oak, was laid last week, stem-post installed and the stern, and moulds and fairing-strips put in place. As the weekend approached, Cap’n Albert Allen, the master-builder, was completing the final details before beginning to plank up the hull.

Close to a century has elapsed, since such a boat rose from the keel-blocks in a Vineyard yard and it is more than possible that this boat, built so many years ago on the same spot, may have been the last one of its kind to be built anywhere on the coast.

A fishing boat, designed especially for the handling of lobster-pots, this particular style went out with the advent of the catboat of the earlier model, hence the conjecture. Changes in practices of fishermen, improved means of handling boats and various other matters, brought about the decline in the use of the sloop-rig in small working boats. But one glimpse at this new craft, which, in design, is a very old one, discloses many features which were required when boats of this type were in common use.

The great weight of her keel suggests that such boats were beached, and hauled on boat-ladders or skids, rather than ship-railway cradles. The rise of her run, which is extremely sharp, dates from far more than a century ago as a type of design, yet the size of her timbers and the thickness of her planking indicate a desire on the part of the designer to reduce the overall weight of hull wherever practical to do so.

It must be realized that this boat was designed for sail alone, and this particular boat will have no auxiliary power. Although her after-deadwood is massive, there is no provision for a shaft-log and it would require some re-designing in order to bore it for a shaft.

She is not of the “cod-head and mackerel-tail” type, however, but some of the hollowness of her entrance and reverse curve are first noted by marine historians in the craft known as “Baltimore clippers” and somewhat later, in coastal pilot boats, where they proved their worth. If, therefore, anyone who knows and loves boats, would like to see what the older masters turned out before motor boats were known, here is an example.

And it might be added that Cap’n Allen and the yard proprietor, Commodore Tom Hale, are as much in love with this craft as the owner, who resurrected the plans and specifications from ancient archives.

Reminiscence is a hazardous thing — but the hazard is usually an altogether pleasant one. Reference to the anomaly of Fourth Street avenue on the Camp Ground at Oak Bluffs, as it used to be called, brings a note from Mrs. Adele Nininger.

Mrs. Niniger refers to the cottage recently bought by Miss Anne Hotchkiss “called the Adams house — to me it was always Horatio Pease’s house. That shows how far back I go. It is true that at the time it was Fourth Street Ave. which, being a child at the time, confused me. It seemed redundant.

“The explanation to me was that most of the residents were New Bedford people and it was named for Fourth street there. Whether or not there was a church there I don’t know, but I was born and brought up in Providence and never knew of such a church there. However, there was a Mathewson Street Church, and many of the members lived on the camp ground in the triangular part of the circle, if there can be such a thing.”

Mrs. Nininger is surely correct, and the derivation of Fourth Street avenue is from New Bedford. Providence did have a strong camp ground influence, though. There are pictures of a tent bearing a sign “Providence Chestnuts”. The occupants represented the Chestnut Street Methodist Church in that city.

Two landmarks have been well nigh obliterated in Vineyard Haven within the past few weeks, the Cromwell house from Cromwell’s Lane, and the Bartlett Allen house from Beach street. The houses have been torn down and the lumber largely removed. According to reliable information, both were built in 1812.

Not much of the history of either house is known. The Cromwell house once contained either a store, or storage space for a retail establishment. It is said that beneath the high terrace on which the house stood there is a bricked-up passageway that once was used as an entrance to the basement from the beach which was then but a few yards distant. Boats landing merchandise, could be beached very close to this entrance, thus facilitating the unloading and storing of the goods.

As to the Allen house, it is not known whether Bartlett Allen had it built, or purchased it from a former owner. Bartlett Allen was the father of Truman Allen, who was remembered by the late Stephen C. Luce Sr., a relative, who lived in this house on Beach street. Frther identification lies in the fact that Truman was a brother of “Camp Meeting” John Allen, who was probably born in this house.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox