Text by Katie Ellis
This historic New England community comprised of 318 cozy cottages reigns supreme in the world of cottage curb appeal and colorful style ideas.
Just south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, awaits the idyllic island of Martha’s Vineyard. The island is composed of six towns, each bursting with coastal charm and a storied past. Perhaps the liveliest of the island’s towns, Oak Bluffs boasts quintessential cottage charm on nearly every street corner, particularly in its famed community of gingerbread cottages.
The whimsical candy-colored cottages are iconic to Martha’s Vineyard. Built in the second half of the 1800s as Methodist camp meeting houses, the development is officially known as the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association and less formally as the Campground. The first camp meeting took place on these grounds in 1835 with church tents and a makeshift speaker’s stand. From that modest half-acre site, the community has grown into the 34-acre area that makes up the Campground today. The camp tents were replaced with more-permanent residences, and today, the community is home to more than 300 privately owned picturesque carpenter Gothic gingerbread cottages.
The public is welcome to walk through the National Historic Landmark grounds and the remarkable iron tabernacle, the heart of the Campground, and step back nearly 200 years into history. The character of the cottages has been preserved by generations of homeowners, providing a unique look at the architecture of this Gothic Revival community.
For a better understanding of the Campground’s history, visit the Cottage Museum or take a guided walking tour. For a unique experience, you can even stay in the gingerbread village, as some cottage owners rent out their homes for a limited number of weeks.