The Island Towns

Aquinnah

Many year-round residents of Aquinnah are descendants of the Wampanoag Indians who showed the colonial settlers how to kill whales, plant corn, and find clay for the early brickyards. Much later, these Aquinnah Indians were in great demand as boatsteerers in the whaling fleets. It was the boatsteerer who cast the iron into the whale. The Aquinnah Indians were judged to be the most skillful and..

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Chilmark

Chilmark is a town of rolling hills and unmatched coastline. Not so long ago uninhabited except for an occasional farm or fishing village, it now provides the setting for many a summer home. The stone fences of the sheep farms still ribbon the hills, while the old stone animal pound stands on the South Road, a reminder of the days when a gate left open resulted in a roaming flock and a fine fo..

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Edgartown

One of New England’s most elegant communities, Edgartown was the Island’s first colonial settlement and it has been the county seat since 1642. The stately white Greek Revival homes built by the whaling captains have been meticulously maintained. They make the town a museum-piece community, a seaport village preserved from the early 19th century. To view and appreciate this tow..

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Oak Bluffs

In 1835 this community served as the site for annual summer camp meetings when Methodist church groups found the groves and pastures of Martha’s Vineyard particularly well suited to all-day gospel sessions. Steam vessels from New York, Providence, Boston, and Portland continued to bring more enthusiastic devotees of the Oak Bluffs way of life. Horse cars were used to bring vacationers fr..

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Vineyard Haven

Excellent shops, fine restaurants, and a beautiful harbor are only a few of the attractions that make Vineyard Haven so special to tourists and residents alike. The town that incorporates Vineyard Haven is called Tisbury, after a parish in England near the birthplace of the Island’s first governor, Thomas Mayhew. English settlement of the area dates from the mid-1600s, when Mayhew purcha..

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West Tisbury

It was the mill site that originally attracted settlers, because there was no stream in Edgartown strong enough to dam for a water wheel. The grist mill gave way in 1847 to the manufacture of satinet, a heavy fabric for whalemen’s jackets made from Island wool. The Congregational Church on State Road is always open to visitors. Solid and settled as it now looks, even this structure did n..

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