Everything you didn’t know about this popular attraction
For many who are traveling to Martha’s Vineyard, a visit to the Gingerbread Cottages in Oak Bluffs is usually on the list of must-see attractions. During the summer, you can take a tour of the Cottage Museum and get a look inside these historical 19th-century homes.
Oak Bluffs Campground History
The campground began as a retreat for Methodists in the late 1800s, a summer camp to come and worship. Over time, the visitors chose to live there, building these quaint cottages, in lieu of tents, in pastel colors. Today, the 318 Victorian cottages are extremely well preserved and privately owned by descendants of these early residents and members of the Campmeeting Association, which is still active.
When you take a tour, it’s like stepping back in time. You’ll discover the green cottage, furnished with pieces from the period, will remind you of another era. Photographs and memorabilia inside also depict the campground in its heyday.
The houses are like nothing you have ever seen, though reminiscent of gingerbread houses, which is how they got their name. The style evolved as the early Methodists tried to outdo each other in building the most ornate cottages they could. The result is known as “Carpenter’s Gothic,” which involves almost frilly designs in the wood, curled ends on the roofs, ornate porches and designs that look like something straight out of the Candyland board game!
Activities at the Campground
Today the Campmeeting Association hosts free concerts, movie nights and special guest speakers at the Tabernacle complex found in the center of it all. Upcoming events include: worship services, yoga, campground walking tours, family movie nights, a sunset concert series, and a spiritual retreat. If you’re looking for some inspiration, this magical place at the heart of Oak Bluffs will definitely make an impression.
The Grand Illumination: A Must-See Event
Just before the close of summer, on the third Wednesday of August is the Grand Illumination. Chinese and Japanese lanterns are strung from the cottage porches, and more lanterns hang from trees. As the sun sets, visitors and residents alike come together to see the glittering, awesome display. The event is followed by a community sing-along and a live concert. Some visitors, to honor the campground’s history, come dressed in Victorian and turn-of-the-century clothes. If you’re staying on the island in August, it’s an event you won’t want to miss!
Where: The campground is located in Trinity Park in Oak Bluffs
Admission: Visits to the grounds are free year-round. But the Cottage Museum tour costs $2 per adult and 50 cents for children ages three to 12.
Hours: In the summer, the museum and gift shop are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, visit the Campmeeting Association’s website.
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