Historic Harthaven

Centennial Year 1911 - 2011


early images of Harthaven

“About five years ago Mr. Hart purchased about 40 acres of woodland on the west side of the Beach Road, with about two and a half miles of shore front on the east side of the road (now known as the “State Highway”). This section has been named Harthaven and the lake or large pond which served as a breeder of mosquitos has been dredged at great expense, and an opening made from the pond through the beach into the sea with stone jetties on either side. This makes a fine harbor for sailboats, and a few years ago we saw a large schooner loaded with lumber for a new bungalow to be built for Mr. Hart. She was anchored almost up to the edge of the pond, quite near the State Road.” From the Vineyard Gazette, November 15, 1919.

In 1911, William Hart began buying up separate parcels of land beginning immediately south of the sea wall on the southern outskirts of Oak Bluffs and extending to the opening from Nantucket Sound into Sengekontacket Pond at the boundary between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. He had considered buying some prime 60 acres of land for $12,000 on Edgartown Harbor south of Tower Hill “and the Brainard place” from an Everett Allen Davis of West Tisbury in 1909 and 1910. Son Jim was for it, but older son George prevailed in convincing his father to buy land in Harthaven because of a lack of a beach and presence of mosquitos on the Edgartown property. Jim favored the Edgartown land because this would provide “...harbor facilities and a quaint old town with a much better reputation that Oak Bluffs.”

On December 6, 1911, when he was 77 years old, William bought his first Harthaven lot from Harry P Kent. he continued his purchases into 1912 and 11913, purchasing another eleven parcels from John H. Anderson, Manuel De Bettencourt, Charles T. Luce, John C and Eunice E. Hamblin, Susan F. Norton, Lilla W. Sinclair, Fred C. Gore, Mary A. Beetle, Michael J. Keegan and Susan R. Beetle. He picked up another lot from Frank W. Chase in 1915 and one from Charles C. Earle in 1918. His large land holdings not stretched from the low water mark on Nantucket Sound inland to the DeBettencourt farm and to some fields that later became the grass strip Trade winds airport.” From Harthaven - A History by John Moore.

The material for the first Harthaven houses were brought in by sea. Here, a schooner is offloading in front of Walter H. Hart's house - now owned by the Lorentz family. The House to the left is Howard’s (Jim) now owned by the Giffords.

The “large schooner loaded for lumber for a new bungalow” mentioned in a Vineyardd Gazette article, was for Walter Hart’s house, although other schooners had brought lumber over for the building of other family cottages during this period. In 1915, one of the carpenters at The Stanley Works had approached Walter and requested permission to come down to the Vineyard to build the house for him. Arriving early in May, four men pitched a tent on the land and set to work. They obtained their materials from Fall River and hired the schooner to carry them to Harthaven. Fast work and a house of slightly simpler design permitted Walter and his family to occupy their cottage three months earlier than his brother-in-law, E. A. Moore, thereby “. . . winning the longevity award.”

from John Moore - A Brief History.

In July 1914, William gifted $8,000 for “... improvements to include dredging harbor, open to the Sound with concrete jetties and a breakwater.”

By the time William turned 80 in 1914, he and his wife had built their sumptuous house which the Vineyard Gazette of September 17, 1914 described as follows: WILL BE A BEAUTIFULL ESTATE There is a prospect that more new houses will be built in the new “Hart Settlement” off the Beach Road. It was our privilege to be shown over the lovely estate and new summer residence of Mr. Wm. H. Hart one day last week. Here are all the latest modern improvements and conveniences. Electric bells and electric lights all over the house and on the spacious piazzas~. The interior of the house is of hard wood, finished in natural color. Fine oriental rugs cover the floors and the furnishing and hangings are all in keeping. Mr. Hart has had a fine circular driveway made from the Beach Road up to and from his residence. This has been concreted. The house sets a long distance back from the road and is in the midst of groves of oaks and pines.

A fine view of the Sound is seen from the house as well as the interior ponds upon which his land borders. We hear that Mr. Hart’s daughter’s house is to be built in the grove of pines near the beach. Mr. Hart has had broad roads cut through his land making a drive through the woods a great pleasure. There is no doubt but that this estate will be one of the beauty spots of the town in a few years. Even now Mr. Hart has his house surrounded by green lawns, made possible even in this first year by sodding and water. Mr. Hart has accomplished an enterprising thing in having his pipes for the ‘city water’ extended to his grounds. John Moore - A Brief History.

E. A. and Martha Moore’s Harthaven House

Mr. and Mrs. Hart’s daughter, Mrs. E. Allen Moore, has her bungalow set in the pine grove on the east side of the road with the front of the bungalow facing the waters of the little harbor and of Vineyard Sound [sic]. Two of Mr. Hart’s sons are on this same side, and also the new large white house which Mr. Hart lets to friends of the family. We wish Mr. and Mrs. Hart a pleasant winter in their New Britain home and later in the Sunny South where they will go about Christmas time to escape the cold weather. They hope to return in early springtime to their Island home.

Nanny and Grampa’s cottage was erected with several unique features. The interior was paneled throughout with cypress wood because it was essentially impervious to rot. Because of its location on the harbor, overlooking Nantucket Sound, Grampa installed a new innovation (for those days), a picture window. By today’s standards it was relatively small, some three and a half by four and a half feet. But in 1915, the builders thought he was most unwise to install such a thing, it would never stand up to noreasters, let alone hurricanes. It has never been replaced!  John Moore - A Brief History

Edward H. Hart’s house - now owned by the Vibberts and Conlins.

Walter Hart home - Now Lorentz

Jim Hart’s “Boathouse”