Martha's Vineyard Gingerbread Houses: What to Know | Hy-Line Cruises (2024)

Welcome to a world of whimsy and wonder, where vibrant colors and intricate details adorn every corner. Nestled on the picturesque island of Martha’s Vineyard, the Gingerbread Cottages in Oak Bluffs offer a delightful escape into a fairytale-like setting. With their unique architecture and rich history, these charming cottages have captured the hearts of visitors for generations.

The Story Behind the Gingerbread Cottages

Martha's Vineyard Gingerbread Houses: What to Know | Hy-Line Cruises (1)Step into a time gone by as you wander through the streets of Oak Bluffs. The story of the Gingerbread Cottages began in the late 1800s when the Methodist Camp Meeting Association established a religious retreat on Martha’s Vineyard. Seeking a place to gather and worship, members built these intricate cottages as summer homes, with each one showcasing its own distinct personality. The Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA) holds a significant place in the history and cultural fabric of Martha’s Vineyard. Established in 1835 as a Methodist religious retreat, the MVCMA has evolved into a vibrant community and a cherished part of the island’s heritage. The association’s founding purpose was to provide a space for spiritual renewal and communal worship, attracting thousands of people each summer. The iconic “gingerbread cottages” within the MVCMA compound are a testament to the architectural and historical significance of the area. The MVCMA has played an important role in promoting religious, social, and cultural activities, fostering a sense of community among residents and visitors alike. Today, the MVCMA continues to preserve its rich history while embracing the modern world, serving as a beloved landmark and a reminder of Martha’s Vineyard’s enduring traditions.

Architectural Marvels of Martha’s Vineyard

Prepare to be amazed by the architectural marvels that make up the Gingerbread Cottages. These whimsical structures feature intricate woodwork, ornate trimmings, and a rainbow of vibrant colors. As you stroll along the streets, you’ll be immersed in a kaleidoscope of hues, from pastel pinks and blues to cheerful yellows and greens. The ornate details, including gingerbread trims, lace-like railings, and decorative flourishes, give these cottages their distinctive charm.

Martha's Vineyard Gingerbread Houses: What to Know | Hy-Line Cruises (2)
Exploring the Cottage Community

The Gingerbread Cottages are more than just pretty facades; they are a thriving community filled with warmth and camaraderie. Many of these cottages have been passed down through generations, and residents take great pride in maintaining their historical integrity. Take a leisurely walk through the neighborhood, and you may find friendly residents sitting on their porches, exchanging stories, and welcoming visitors with open arms.

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Events and Festivities Celebrating the Cottages

Throughout the year, the Gingerbread Cottages come alive with events and festivities that celebrate their unique heritage. One of the most anticipated gatherings is the annual Illumination Night, held in August. During this enchanting event, the cottages are adorned with thousands of colorful Chinese and Japanese lanterns, transforming the streets into a magical wonderland. Visitors can enjoy live music, dance performances, and a joyful parade, creating an atmosphere of celebration and community spirit.

Nearby Attractions in Martha’s Vineyard

While exploring the Gingerbread Cottages, be sure to take advantage of the nearby attractions. Just a short stroll away, you’ll find the beautiful beaches of Oak Bluffs, where you can bask in the sun or take a refreshing dip in the Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, the town offers an array of quaint shops, art galleries, and restaurants where you can indulge in local cuisine and unique island treasures.

A visit to the gingerbread cottages in Oak Bluffs is like stepping into a storybook. The whimsical architecture, vibrant colors, and rich history combine to create a truly enchanting experience. So, whether you’re seeking inspiration, a sense of nostalgia, or simply a place to immerse yourself in beauty, these gingerbread cottages will leave you spellbound.

Plan your visit to Martha’s Vineyard and see these beautiful cottages for yourself! Our high-speed ferries are waiting to whisk you away to Oak Bluffs in just one hour, and we have plenty of departures to fit into your busy schedule. Check out our schedule and pricing information here.

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Martha's Vineyard Gingerbread Houses: What to Know | Hy-Line Cruises (2024)


What is the story behind gingerbread houses on Martha's Vineyard? ›

The story of the Gingerbread Cottages began in the late 1800s when the Methodist Camp Meeting Association established a religious retreat on Martha's Vineyard. Seeking a place to gather and worship, members built these intricate cottages as summer homes, with each one showcasing its own distinct personality.

How many gingerbread houses are in Martha's Vineyard? ›

The 318 whimsical Victorian cottages found in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard are an exceptionally well-preserved collection of Methodist camp meeting houses.

Where are the colorful houses on Martha's Vineyard? ›

Today, 300 gingerbread houses remain in the Oak Bluffs Campground, as well as the Cottage Museum at the entrance to the village, which features a prototype cottage furnished as it would have looked in the 1800s. The tabernacle sits in the center of the complex, which still functions as a religious facility.

What is the black history of Martha's Vineyard? ›

The first Black people who came to the island were enslaved, servants, and – in the mid 1800s – whalers. (The Northeast was a prominent center of the whale oil trade at the time.) After the economy shifted towards more efficient forms of energy, Martha's Vineyard was reborn as a vacation destination.

What is the story behind gingerbread houses? ›

According to certain researchers, the first gingerbread houses were the result of the well-known Grimm's fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel" in which the two children abandoned in the forest found an edible house made of bread with sugar decorations.

Why is Martha's Vineyard so important? ›

Martha's Vineyard is renowned for its stunning scenery – with rolling hills, wildflower fields, and miles of pristine coastline. It also has some of the best seafood restaurants in New England and numerous activities and attractions that cater to all types of interests.

What celebrity has a house on Martha's Vineyard? ›

Famous people that call Martha's Vineyard home include Michael J. Fox, Spike Lee, Diane Sawyer and Barak and Michelle Obama, and hundreds more A-listers that visit the island each year.

What is the richest part of Martha's Vineyard? ›

Nestled on the idyllic island of Martha's Vineyard, Vineyard Haven might look like a quaint coastal haven, but don't let its charming facade fool you—it's got a hefty price tag. In fact, it recently snagged the title of the most expensive place to live in the entire United States, according to a study by LendingTree.

How much is the gingerbread house on Martha's Vineyard? ›

and most are only 700 sq. ft. They can cost $400k to purchase and owners are obligated to occupy the property for part of the year. “Cottage City” broke off from Edgartown in 1907 and formerly became “Oak Bluffs”.

What is the population of white people at Martha's Vineyard? ›

Martha's Vineyard always was, and still is, a mostly White community— the population was 5,341 according to the 2020 United States Census, and only 12 percent of the population comprises people of color; even in Oak Bluffs, less than five percent of the population is Black.

What did Martha's Vineyard used to be called? ›

Originally called Noepe, or “land between the streams” by the indigenous inhabitants of the Wampanoag Native American Tribe, the Island was renamed in 1602 by a British explorer named Bartholomew Gosnold, who named it after his daughter Martha and the viney undergrowth found along the coast.

Why were there so many deaf people on Martha's Vineyard? ›

It was caused by a recessively inherited genetic mutation that was traced to Kent county, England. Emigrants from that region, some of whom came specifically from an area called The Weald, settled on Martha's Vineyard in the late 17th century.

What is the story behind Martha's Vineyard? ›

Bartholomew Gosnold charted Martha's Vineyard for the British Crown in 1602 and is credited with naming it, supposedly after his infant daughter or mother-in-law (or both) and the wild grapes he found growing in profusion.

Are gingerbread houses biblical? ›

Although not a religious tradition, it does remind us that being together as a family is God-given and something to be thankful for. A little history: the earliest known gingerbread recipe was found in 2400 BC in Greece.

Who owns a house on Marthas Vineyard? ›

What celebrities live on Martha's Vineyard? Other than the Obama house, Martha's Vineyard has a scattering of estates that belong to – or have been rented by – the rich and famous, both past and present. They include Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Jeffrey Kramer, Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey.

What fairytale are gingerbread houses from? ›

The tradition of decorated gingerbread houses began in Germany in the early 1800s, supposedly popularised after the not-so-Christmassy fairytale of Hansel and Gretel was published in 1812.

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