Shearer Cottage Gives Up Expansion Plans

The historic Oak Bluffs Inn surrendered its approvals from the Martha's Vineyard Commission last week, essentially ending any renovation plans before they started.

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Oak Bluffs

Harry T. Burleigh, the composer, who recently returned from a three months’ trip abroad, on which he was accompanied by his son, has arrived to spend the remainder of the summer at Oak Bluffs. He is the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Shearer at their summer home on Vineyard Highlands.

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MVC Approves Shearer Cottage Expansion Plan

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to approve an expansion project for Shearer Cottage, the historic Oak Bluffs inn that has been central to the long tradition of African Americans vacationing on the Vineyard.

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Wastewater Is Sticking Point in Shearer Cottage Expansion Plan

Expansion plans for the historic Shearer Cottage in Oak Bluffs remain undecided, as longtime family owners attempt to balance a need for economic survival with environmental impacts.

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Expansion Plans Aired for Historic Shearer Cottage In Oak Bluffs

History was on display at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission Thursday night when a public hearing opened on a major renovation plan for Shearer Cottage, the richly storied Oak Bluffs inn.

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Vermont Doctors Celebrate 40 Years of Shearer Cottage Visits
Louisa Hufstader

For the past 40 years, Shearer Cottage — the rambling, red-sided building in the East Chop highlands — has been the annual destination for a group of doctors from Vermont.

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Revisiting Shearer Summer Theatre
Alex Elvin

In the 1940s, a small group of women started the Shearer Summer Theatre. Olive Tomlinson's mother Cutie Bowles was one of them.

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Ceremonies at Shearer Cottage Dedicate Historic Site on African American Trail
Ethan Kelley
Shearer Cottage in Oak Bluffs was the first inn on Martha’s Vineyard, and among the first in the nation, to be owned by and cater to black people. It now has been dedicated to the man for who founded the inn, and is a key stop on the Vineyard’s Heritage Trail.
Named for Charles Shearer, the cottage is the culmination of this man’s journey to prosperity.
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Heritage Trail: Island Project Shows Story of Black History
Yvonne Guzman
In the Waterview Farm area of Oak Bluffs is a boulder as tall as a man. Back in the 1790s, the Rev. John Saunders de­livered his sermons here, from atop “Pulpit Rock.” Mr. Saunders, who was African-American, was one of the first people to preach Methodism on Martha’s Vineyard.
But for anyone who doesn’t know the story, this is just a rock in an Oak Bluffs subdiyision. In fact, many sites, though significant to the Vineyard’s African-American history, sit un­marked.
Today, some Island people want to change that.
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Black Summer Theatre's History Retold
Olive Tomlinson (as told to Linsey Lee)

Editor’s Note: Olive Tomlinson spoke with Linsey Lee, oral history curator for the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, about her recollections of Liz White’s Shearer Summer Theatre, one of the first summer theatre groups on the Island after World War II. An actress who felt stymied by the stereotyped African American roles available to her on Broadway, in the summers Liz returned to Oak Bluffs where her family owned and operated Shearer Cottage, a popular inn for vacationing African Americans.

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