The Martha’s Vineyard Summer Institute, located in the Highlands section of Oak Bluffs, offered summer courses for teachers for almost 30 years during the late 1800s and early 1900s. More than 700 teachers from nearly every state in the country descended upon Cottage City for five weeks every July and August, where for $15 plus board they chose from a wide assortment of classes including botany, chemistry, geology, mineralogy, “phonography,” zoology, microscopy, entomology, Latin, Greek, French, German, art, bookkeeping, writing, elocution, and education courses for teachers of arithmetic, music, penmanship, geography, and history, taught by more than 40 instructors.
Founded by Col. Homer B. Sprague, the institute combined “advanced scientific and literary studies” with “rest and relaxation.” In addition to Agassiz Hall, named in honor of scientist and educator Louis Agassiz, the small campus included dormitories and a dining hall, together with Bartlett’s Art School, right.
Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.