This was then

Photos of long ago Martha’s Vineyard.

The Crocker Harness Factory in Vineyard Haven. — Courtesy Chris Baer

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.

Crocker Second Harness Factory

The Vineyard Haven skyline was once dominated by this enormous harness factory where today stands the stone bank building. One of the largest factories of its kind in New England, the Crocker Harness Company was easily the largest employer on the Island for two decades, employing over one hundred workers and supplying harnesses throughout the east coast (as well as for two presidents.) For many years the factory whistle became a popular downtown timekeeping device, and the elevator was the first on the Island. This was Crocker’s second harness factory -– the basement of his first, built eleven years earlier, was the origin of the Great Fire of 1883 which completely destroyed the entire downtown area in an enormous and tragic conflagration. This building was burned in a much smaller fire at the turn of the century following the collapse of the company, and ultimately demolished.