From the Nov. 18, 1870 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:
Mr. Editor: — It is rather late in the season for Camp-meeting letters, so I will call this a Camp-ground letter, particularly as my remarks will probably more concern “houses and lands” than the sometime occupants thereof.
To one who has been here through the summer months, the scene presented is rather a dreary one. Standing at some central point one looks down the long avenues and across the leafless parks, and sees row after row of cottages with shuttered windows and barred doors, and not a solitary croquet-stick to gladden his hungry vision.
This place is just now eminently fitted for the habitation of a poet of melancholy cast. There is a superabundance of serene and yellow leaves lying around, in all stages of serenity and yellowness, from which his gloomy fancy might select specimens suited to every possible case. But in the midst of all this desolation, there is one thing decidedly enlivening — the din of the saw and hammer. It seems as though they would never get through building cottages.
Six cottages are being erected on this ground — (Camp Ground proper) — one by Mr. Freeman Pease for WH Munroe, another by Cornelius Ripley for Jeremiah Pease Esq., and four by Worth, Cleavland & Co. for parties abroad. Charles H. Shute & Son have said to their former cottage and salesroom — “Friend, sit thee down lower,” and have accordingly moved it back a little way and are having a new front constructed — twenty feet by eighteen and fifteen feet in the posts. They will thus have ample accommodation for their increasing trade the coming season, and will doubtless have on hand a full assortment of everything in the photographic and stereoscopic line, besides possibly (this for those who went to the Fair) various “Ornaments for the mantelpiece .”
On the Highlands, it is comparatively quiet, although by no means lifeless. There is one cottage being put up. The Planing-mill, of which Fisher & Huxford are the chief stock-holders, is completed as far as the building is concerned, and awaits the arrival of the machinery which is expected daily. It (the building) is seventy feet long by thirty wide, with a side projection twenty feet by thirty-five for engine-room and boiler. The mill will probably be in operation in three or four weeks.
In Oak Bluffs, here all is commotion. Everything seems in the process of being turned upside down and downside up. There is as much “bluffing” as in the warmer months, but it is of a sterner order: — “shawls” and sentiment have given place to shovels and stevedores.
The “Oak Bluffs House,” the pioneer edifice, has been dismembered — sawed in two in the middle — and thus moved farther inland by sections, where it is now being reconstructed for a lodging-house, one half forming an L to the other . It is intended to supply its place with something elegant in the way of a hotel, as soon as a few preliminaries are arranged.
The ground from the wharf to the Camp entrance is being graded, which has already had an effect of sending Messrs. Cleavland & Bradley up a foot and a half, and will oblige Mr. Sturgis to increase the number of his door-step by one or two. The Bluff Company are laying out a road from the wharf to the Square by the Novelty Market. It is to be paved, and the quantity of stones that are being hoisted from the beach over the bluff and carted away is simply astounding. The company will also put down a plank walk from the wharf around the bluff in the direction of the bathing houses. Somewhere between the north end and the middle a “Pagoda” is to be erected, through which the walk will pass. This I understand will be a kind of refreshment saloon, etc., for the benefit of walkists and strollists.
Last, but by no means least, there is to be a chapel on Chapel Hill, proposals for which are already being received. It is to be finished by the first of July, and will probably cost ten or twelve thousand dollars. Judging from the plan the building will be a unique affair, and a decided ornament to the locality. It is to be free to preachers of every theological complexion (including of course the Liberals), so that all will have an opportunity of hearing the truth as they believe it. All this is by the Corporation. But private enterprise is no less active, as is evidenced by the number of cottages going up in every direction. I counted twelve, three of which are in the hands of Worth, Cleavland & Co. There is one very fine one at the eastern extremity, nearly completed, for Mr. Metcalf of Worcester.
In the aggregate there are about twenty cottages in the process of construction on the lands of the different associations, and many more in immediate prospect. The pace at which this “peculiar institution” is advancing is simply marvelous. At the present rate of progress in a few years this will have become the Metropolis, and Edgartown and Tisbury but outlying communities.
But I imagine I have been sufficiently lengthy already, and will accordingly bring this episode to a close.
Compiled by Hilary Wallcox