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The Marvelous, Magical, Star-studded History of The Harbor View Hotel

If the Harbor View Hotel was a celebrity, she would be an A-lister, that’s for sure. Everyone from world leaders to small children would want to be around her charm. That, in fact, has been the story of the Harbor View Hotel pretty much from day one…July 23rd, 1891, to be exact. Her debut launched with an exclusive, invitation-only gala that welcomed 400 of the area’s most esteemed guests.  Toasting and dancing until dawn, party goers flowed from the grand ballroom to the hotel’s veranda, adorned with exotic Chinese lanterns.

But let’s rewind a bit. These fine people flocked to Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard for good reason — it had become a Mecca for la dolce vita. Settled in 1671, the early colony was regarded to be a prime port for whaling. As that industry grew, so did Edgartown as one the most prominent and prestigious resorts along the Eastern corridor. By the mid-1800s, the town was the Vineyard’s wealthiest, and moving away from a whaling enterprise and towards becoming a top tier resort. Local leaders focused their energies on creating a tourist infastructure, beginning with a light rail that connected the ferry port of Oak Bluffs to Edgartown, where a proposed ocean-front hotel would be built to be the finest international resort of its kind on the prime location on the island.

And so begat the glamorous life of the Harbor View Hotel, where before long, the famous and far-flung as well as returning families, called her their ultimate summer escape. High profile celebrities, powerful politicians and elite athletes could often be seen strolling through the lobby. Even a shark surfaced, when a young director by the name of Steven Spielberg and the cast and crew of “Jaws” resided on an entire floor at the hotel in 1975.

Today, the Harbor View Hotel continues its legendary reputation. With a recent sweeping renovation and rebirth, the luxury resort is poised once again to be one the most elegant and exclusive properties globally. The new year of 2021 will mark 130 years after her grand doors swung open. And what a celebration it shall be — a black tie anniversary gala, special festivities and travel packages will abound. In short, a whale of a fine time.