Take a trip to this little town, straight from a storybook fantasy.
Take a trip to this quaint Martha Vineyard’s town, straight from storybook fantasy.
The island is home to a vibrant network of towns and distinct attractions—not the least among them is the community of Wesleyan Grove in Oak Bluffs. Renowned for its iconic neighborhood of Carpenter Gothic-style wooden cottages, the Campground, as it is also known, has grown from a small acreage hosting Methodist summer revivals to an active network of summer vacationers and full-time residents.
Steeped in rich American history, the island of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts has been a summer vacation destination and symbol of rest and rejuvenation for more than 150 years.
Visiting the Campground is like taking a trip back in time 150 years, to a quainter, quieter time.
Some of the earliest visitors to Oak Bluffs were Methodists, who held annual summer revivals in the grove that would eventually become the town. What started as a simple campground of pitched communal tents in 1835 grew in popularity, until families began building their own wooden cottages in the 1860s and ‘70s for when they returned every summer for the revival.
Known as Wesleyan Grove, the grounds form the crux of the Oak Bluffs community and are now home to more than 300 cottages with the Tabernacle as its physical and spiritual center. The Tabernacle, which started as a humble preacher’s stand in the early 19th century, expanded into an open-air structure of wrought iron and stained glass in 1879. It became a historical point of interest when Wesleyan Grove was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and became a national historical landmark in 2005. A fundraising project to restore the Tabernacle itself started in 1999, and was placed on the “Save America’s Treasures” list in 2000.
Today, Wesleyan Grove goes by other names: colloquially, “The Campground,” though it also is represented by the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA). While MVCMA started as a Methodist association in 1860 to facilitate the summer revivals, it has since evolved into a multi-denominational organization that is dedicated to preserving the spirit of the revivals for the spiritual and physical rejuvenation of all who visit.
Oak Bluffs, a small town on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, was the only town on the island designed with tourism specifically in mind. Originally incorporated as Cottage City in 1880, Oak Bluffs is one of the earliest planned residential communities in the United States.