Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

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Oak Bluffs is a town located on Martha's Vineyard in Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 3,713 at the 2000 census and was estimated at 3,735 as of 2008. It is one of two Steamship Authority ferry ports on the island, although the Oak Bluffs steamships only operate in the summer.



Main Article: History of Oak Bluffs
Oak Bluffs was first settled in 1642 and was officially incorporated in 1880 as Cottage City. Before its incorporation, it was part of Edgartown. The town re-incorporated in 1907 as Oak Bluffs, so named because the town was the site of an oak grove along the bluffs.

Oak Bluffs originally began as the center for tourism on the Vineyard. While the other towns were more focused on industry, Oak Bluffs became a mecca for travelers from around the world as early as the beginning of the 1800‘s. It also became a center of the thriving 19th century Methodist movement.

In the area known now as the Martha's Vineyard Campground Meeting Association (MVCMA) or “The Campground“, members of the Methodist church would come each summer to pitch tents and have open air meetings. As these meetings became more and more popular, returning visitors began replacing the tents with small wooden buildings generally known now as Gingerbread Cottages. This name originated from the ornate molding and bright colors that these summer homes were painted and because of their quaint, almost storybook look. With the Methodist camp meetings taking place in the center, the campground expanded in a circular pattern around the meeting area until hundreds of the small cottages sprang up. Later a more permanent structure was built, called the Tabernacle. This covered open sided structure allowed speakers and meeting attendees to weather the elements and gave rise to a community center which is still in use today.

The campground Gingerbread cottages are cherished historic landmarks as well as very expensive real estate. Many are still family owned and passed on generation to generation.

In 1873 the neighbouring community of Harthaven was established by William H. Hart when he purchased a lot from the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company. The community later moved in 1911 to its present location between Oak Bluffs town and Edgartown.

In 1884, the Flying Horses Carousel was brought to Oak Bluffs, where it remains the oldest platform carousel still in operation.

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