This was then: Drinking, smoking, lodging, and fish


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

Drinking, smoking, lodging, and fishA quiet moment on the stretch of Circuit Avenue between the Island House and the Arcade building during the late 1880s or early 1890s.

A pair of high-wheeled bicycles rest in front of the Cottage City House, the summer hotel owned and operated for many years by Mrs. Sarah Stearns. Well-known for her hospitality and homemade bread, Mrs. Stearns kept a second hotel in Florida during the colder months. Her husband William, an off-Island railroad superintendent, was remembered for having helped escort President Lincoln, in disguise, from Philadelphia to Washington after his election.

Slightly hidden from view, next to the barber pole, is the Globe Fish Market, run by Louis A. Pease of Edgartown. His son Ernest, who clerked here for many years, later opened an ice business.

The G.D. Dows & Co. store at the center was a branch store of the Boston bottling company which pioneered carbonated drinks in the U.S. The G.D. Dows company claimed to be the first bottler of carbonated ginger ale in the country, and was also well-known for its bottled Jamaica ginger cordials (presumably alcoholic) and “champagne ginger,” as well as its fruit juices, extracts, and mineral and soda waters. The signs in this photo suggest that beer and cigars may also have been popular with the Cottage City summertime crowd.