The Harbor View Hotel. A Historic Martha’s Vineyard Landmark.
Where Generations Have Stayed, Played and Grown Closer
The Harbor View Hotel has been an icon on Martha’s Vineyard since 1891. Families who have spent each season here for generations treasure the venerable Harbor View Hotel history. Today, the hotel combines the traditions of the past with a comfortable, relaxing ambience for a timeless yet contemporary experience.
During the height of the whaling industry in the 1830s and 1840s, Edgartown became the Vineyard's wealthiest town. Whaling came to a virtual halt within seven years of the Civil War, and lacking hotels the town was completely unprepared for the sudden and resolute shift to becoming a resort destination. It was at this point that Edgartown made a concerted effort to become an important summer resort. A number of the citizens, with financial assistance from the town, built a railroad across the island, then the impressive hostelry, The Harbor View Hotel on Starbuck’s Neck, overlooking the harbor entrance. The hotel was located at the end of North Water Street, among the whaling captain’s homes.
The shingle-style hotel opened in July 1891. The grand opening was by invitation only, with a mingling of 400 islanders and hotel guests for an evening they would never forget. That night the verandas were hung with Chinese lanterns, the parlors fancily decorated and the entire hotel was brightly illuminated. Mattie Josephine Atkins of Denver provided the entertainment. The string quartette of the Fitchburg Band provided music for dancing, which went on until late at night.
The first few years for the Harbor View weren’t easy. In 1895, another new manager was hired, and after two years in his position he bought out the owners of the hotel. Within a decade, he had doubled the Harbor View’s size. He also added tennis courts and turned the hotel into a profitable venture.
This was the beginning of the hotel’s reputation as a favorite seasonal getaway and second home for those exploring the Vineyard. Soon, entire families would come back, year after year, generation after generation — having many generations of one family stay together nurturing close bonds. Children from many families “grew up” together each summer at the hotel, creating friendships that spanned the decades.
Today, the Harbor View Hotel is a Martha’s Vineyard landmark renowned for drawing upon its legendary past along with offering today’s most coveted amenities and activities. To continue these traditions well into the future, the current owners will be introducing new resort amenities so that generations of guests will continue to enjoy the best of the Hotel’s past, present during every visit.
Harbor View Hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America®, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest historic hotels across America.