No East Coast summer resort has as intriguing a beginning as that of Martha’s Vineyard. Before it became a tourist mecca, it already had thousands of summer visitors, but visitors who came for salvation, not the sun.
Wesleyan Grove, the site of the most successful campground revivals held anywhere, provided congregants with communal support for their new evangelical lives. The Vineyard Campground, however, also attracted those who sought physical expression in sunshine and sea air more than redemption. Local investors spotted the financial opportunity this presented, leading to the creation of the first town in the entire United States designed and built expressly for tourism.
Photographs representative of this period of early Martha’s Vineyard are herein paired with contemporary ones. There have been changes, but the basic yearnings of summer vacationers remain as they were over 150 years ago.
A previous volume, Martha’s Vineyard Through Time: The Present in the Past
, concentrates more on the Island’s architecture than its early commercialization.