Monday, July 27, 2009

The Sweetest Wee Place on Earth

The highlight of our visit to Martha's Vineyard was not the BBQ or the ice cream from Mad Martha's (delicious though they both were). It was not the ferry boat ride into the fog, or the return trip through the rays of magic hour. See image below....

Paully and Michele on the return trip in magic hour.

These were lovely indeed, but the highlight of our visit to Martha's Vineyard was the Martha's Vineyard Campmeeting Association Campground. 

Here's how this little slice of history unfurled.... Wesleyan Grove on Martha's Vineyard, was one of many Methodist camp-meeting grounds in which New England Methodists gathered every year to hold religious meetings that were dedicated to serious business - the salvation of souls. The meeting place in Oak Bluffs became a permanent fixture over a 25 year period.

Essentially, in the beginning, a circle of 20 tents were erected around a clearing in which religious services took place. By 1854 there were 180 tents in concentric circles surrounding a large Tabernacle tent in the centre.

The tents were pitched on a wooden platform and over time, as the camp became more popular, folks started framing the sides of the tents with slats of wood (though the roofs were still made of canvas). The canvas hung from the roof like icing on a gingerbread house and porch decks were added. By 1964, 40 tiny prefabricated wooden houses were sprinkled among approximately 500 canvas and wood sided tents. Double doors on the first and second floors emulated tent flaps. Here's what happened next. People actually took up residence.

Today 320 wooden cottages remain. Only a handful are winterized and occupied year round. In the 1950's one family decided to paint their house a variety of shades of pink. It was known as "the Pepto-Bismol House" and set the trend for others to follow suit.

And oh how they did. Feast your eyes on these visions just as we did.

President Grant slept here. Yes, there.

This much pink made my heart sing, I tell you!

Even the signage is delightful.

(Though I did want to put a comma after the word "walk".)

In 1869, The Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company sponsored a Grand Illumination night. The tradition continues today. One night every August, all electricity is turned off, and thousands of lanterns are lit as members of the community raise their voices in the Tabernacle in a big community sing. We were too early for the big event, but we did get to look at lanterns in the shop of the museum.

The end of this fine day.


  1. Wow, beautiful and enticing. Wish I was with you.

  2. I wish you were here too because I know you would luff it....

  3. Loved the pics of da buildings and their glorious hues. and i now understand the magic of magic hour!

  4. SO sweet it almost makes my teeth hurt!!! Lovely lovely lovely.