Friday, August 12, 2022
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Chris Baer

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This Was Then: Woodpecker Hall

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Chilmark’s first town hall was built on Middle Road in 1844, not far from Tabor House Road, on land given to the town by...

This Was Then: Classic Rocks, Part II

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Twenty thousand years ago, two colossal glaciers crossed paths to form Martha’s Vineyard as we know it. To the east was the mountain of...

This Was Then: Classic rocks

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Charles Hine, in his 1908 book “The Story of Martha’s Vineyard,” describes the area around Peaked Hill in Chilmark as “a wilderness of tumbled...

This Was Then: Poison Vineyard

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This Island is full of native poisons. Black widows, water hemlock, jimsonweed, baneberry, amanita, man o' war, and many, many others. Moshup, the legendary...

This Was Then: The manufactories

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Flipping through the “1907 Business Directory of Oak Bluffs,” you’ll find it’s arranged by category. One might look up “Boarding Houses,” for example (there...

This Was Then: Swept aground

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It was ten o’clock on a Monday night, August 24,1931. The steamer Naushon was arriving in Vineyard Haven from New Bedford via Woods Hole,...

This Was Then: 10 minutes to Boston

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In August 1807, Dr. James Freeman visited the port of Holmes Hole (today, Vineyard Haven). He described a rustic village consisting of about 70...

This Was Then: The Daggett Avenue Grocery

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Depending on how you want to define it, there are fewer than 10 grocery stores on the Island today. But it wasn’t always so....

This Was Then: The Bachelor

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Finding a mate on the Island has always had its challenges. “At Martha’s Vineyard,” wrote the Rev. Charles Brooks in 1855, “they have a...

Can you help solve a mystery?

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My grandfather, Vineyard Haven plumber Stan Lair (1902–87), collected a lot of images. He had a copy stand set up in his bedroom command...

This Was Then: Body count

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There’s a Victorian trope in literature, art, and theater — later echoed in films and television — of the troubled, distraught heroine who walks...

This Was Then: Plagues on the Island

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The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 infected some half-billion people around the world, killing tens of millions globally and tens of thousands in Massachusetts...

This Was Then, Narrated: St. Croix Oliver 

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When you stand inside the Steamship Authority ticket office in Vineyard Haven, you’re standing on the site of one of the most storied maritime...

This Was Then: Last days of Lane’s Block

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Lane’s Block, the jewel of Main Street, Vineyard Haven, was cut down in 1951. Ground was broken for the massive building just days after the...

This Was Then: Mother Stafford’s flag

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Falmouth, as its sign declares, may have been the birthplace of “America the Beautiful” author Katharine Lee Bates. But Oak Bluffs (then Cottage City)...

This Was Then: Royal Society of Good Fellows

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The turn of the twentieth century was an era of fraternal organizations and social societies. The Island had long hosted the Freemasons, of course,...

This Was Then: Wild bikers

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In the 1880s, the booming metropolis of Cottage City (today Oak Bluffs) had a growing appetite for live entertainment. A massive roller-skating rink, located...

Fire on the Island

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Just after lunch on April 26, 1900, Capt. Benjamin C. Cromwell and his men were burning piles of brush on his farm on the...

This Was Then: ‘The Dishpan Fleet’

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Just after midnight on July 9, 1942, steamship officials were notified that they had less than 24 hours to turn over their largest and...

This Was Then: Last of the bumboats

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During the 19th and early 20th century, the most recognized ship captains in Vineyard Haven Harbor were not its storied whaling masters, but rather...