Real Estate Confidential is a weekly chit-chat about new listings, sales, or other insider info on the Martha’s Vineyard Real Estate market, presented by Fred Roven, owner/broker of Martha’s Vineyard Buyer Agents. It appears each Friday in The Minute
I have had an unusual amount of calls the past few weeks from potential buyers who are new to Martha’s Vineyard and looking for a home that will provide a family vacation as well as investment income to cover their expenses. In the age of instant messaging, the amount of phone calls was a surprise. Possibly buyers have more time to relax.
I tell people new to the Island that the first place to begin might be to select a town preference or at least gain an understanding of the very different towns on Martha’s Vineyard.
I’ll usually describe that the Island has two very distinctive areas each with three towns. The up-Island and more rural towns are Aquinnah, Chilmark, and West Tisbury. The down-Island, more commercial, towns are Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. In selecting homes that are right for buyers new to Martha’s Vineyard, I found all to be in the down-Island towns so let’s start there.
This group includes mostly newer homes in areas convenient to Island businesses. They all have the potential to provide significant rental income from day one and are ready for you and your family to enjoy twelve months out of the year.
Vineyard Haven: Also known as Tisbury, the town of Vineyard Haven is an active commercial center throughout the year. It opens its welcome arms to the influx of travelers arriving by ferry to the Island. Vineyard Haven’s Main Street includes a variety of eateries and an array of shops catering to the tastes of any visitor. The Vineyard Haven harbor is an active and lovely sight and was once one of the most heavily sailed ports in the world. At the top of Main Street, one can enjoy the serene passage of sailboats from Owen Park, with its charming small beach, and playground equipment for the tots. One of the natural treasures of Vineyard Haven is its harbor, protected by two promontories of land known as East Chop and West Chop. “Chop” is an old word for jaws, and these two jutting landforms have left Vineyard Haven with a natural enclosure that made it one of the busiest harbors on the East Coast during the heydays of coastal schooners in the United States. Along that harbor are such working businesses as the Island’s main ferry terminal, and the famous Gannon & Benjamin boatyard, one of the finest builders of classic wooden yachts in the United States. A drive out to the West Chop point will take you to the lighthouse, and past impressive private homes with sweeping ocean views.
Oak Bluffs: The unique town of Oak Bluffs features whimsical Victorian “gingerbread” cottages built in the 1800s, which vie with one another for charm and originality. In the 1800’s, before it was known as Oak Bluffs, the area was a center of revivalism among members of the Methodist and other religious faiths. Hundreds flocked to the Island to enjoy sermons and sunshine, pitching tents for temporary shelter. Over time, these tents were replaced by permanent cottages, most of which circle the open-air and recently renovated Tabernacle. Oak Bluffs has a wonderful harbor and along Sea View Avenue offers some of the Island’s most incredible ocean vistas. In addition to relishing the many restaurants and shops, visitors enjoy concerts in Ocean Park and rides on the Flying Horses, the oldest continuously operating carousel in the country, its horses hand-carved in New York City in 1876. As the Methodists expanded their summer visits, they first built wooden platforms for their tents, and then began building a community of colorful cottages around their open-air meeting center. Thus was born the Island’s only truly original architectural style, known today as Campground Gothic Revival. Some 300 cottages with “gingerbread” scrollwork details and gaily-colored paint schemes still stand at the heart of Oak Bluffs, around the central Tabernacle with its graceful arches of wrought iron. The jewel of them all is Ocean Park, with a bandstand at the center from which concerts are given on alternating Sunday nights throughout the summer. Ocean Park is also the center for the August fireworks display which traditionally draws the biggest crowds of any single Island event, and which marks the conclusion of the high summer season.
Edgartown: The streets of Edgartown, the Island’s first colonial settlement, are lined with upscale shops, art galleries, fine restaurants, and historic churches. The stately houses, many of them carefully restored sea captains’ homes, are surrounded by well-manicured lawns and blossoming gardens. Some have lovely views of the Edgartown harbor. Built in 1843 at the height of the whaling industry, the famous Old Whaling Church with its six majestic columns commands Main Street and now serves primarily as a performing arts center. Directly south of Edgartown is an area known as Katama, featuring contemporary vacation homes and a three-mile public barrier beach called South Beach, with surf on one side and protected salt pond on the other. The downtown district has a modern movie theatre and a fine assortment of shops dealing in everything from gourmet foods to designer clothes and jewelry. Along the Edgartown harbor is the yacht club, with a parade of impressive sailing craft that lasts all summer. And beside the town’s Memorial Wharf, which has a spacious public viewing platform on its roof, the Chappaquiddick ferry service takes cars and passengers back and forth all day to the island-within-an-island whose highlights include the remarkable Japanese garden, Mytoi, and the large coastal nature preserves cared for by The Trustees of Reservations.
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