August 6, 2012
House after house after house, each more charming than the next. There is such a look when it comes to homes in Edgartown. Much like Nantucket there are historic restrictions regarding paint and other details historic homes can and can’t have but it’s the consistecy of the look that grabs you. “Edgartown Style” is clean and sharp and well taken care of … and I love it! This is Edgartown…
Here’s some history…
The Edgartown Harbor Village Historic District covers an area of about 150 acres and contains approximately 500 buildings, exhibiting a mix of commercial, residential and industrial land uses. The vast majority of the district’s buildings are wood-frame houses of the 19th and early 20th centuries designed by local builders and carpenters, as well as shipbuilders and whaling captains. Only five masonry buildings exist in the district, all of which are constructed of red brick. Architectural styles that are well-represented include vernacular timber-frame houses and cottages, the Federal style and the Greek Revival style. Less common, but equally significant are examples of later styles such as the Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival and Arts and Crafts. The district possesses significant historic associations with the early settlement of Martha’s Vineyard visible in the Captain D. Fisher House (circa 1704) on North Water Street, the Coffin-Dunham House on South Water Street and the Thomas Cooke House (circa 1765) on Cooke Street.
Edgartown was the island’s center for whaling activities, reaching its height between 1820 and 1865. Between 1835 and 1845 alone, 110 whaling captains built homes and lived in Edgartown. Other maritime-related industries, including fishing, salt manufacturing and candle making also strengthened the local economy during this period. The largest single maritime-related enterprise which grew up around whaling was the production of whale oil and candles by Dr. Daniel Fisher & Company. This company became Edgartown’s largest industry in 1850 and the success is evident in the elaborate Greek Revival dwelling built for Dr. Daniel Fisher on Main Street. The affluence and influence of the area’s ship captains is apparent in the extensive number of captains’ houses, public buildings and churches that also were built during this period.
At the time the whaling industry was in the last stages of decline, Martha’s vineyard’s popularity as a summer resort was beginning in earnest. The first “summer cottages” appeared in Edgartown Village in the early 1880s, although the largest number and most lavish examples were built between 1895 and 1920. Edgartown and all of Martha’s Vineyard gained widespread recognition as a resort community between the late 1920s and the early 1940s, when bungalow cottages and Colonial Revival style buildings began to appear as infill among the earlier buildings in the district. The Edgartown Village Historic District remains a popular resort area today.