“I thought we could make gingerbread houses and eat cookie dough and go ice skating and maybe even hold hands.” – Buddy the ElfIf you’re planning to visit Cape Cod, you shouldn’t miss the famous Gingerbread cottages of Martha’s Vineyard. For tourists who visit Martha’s Vineyard to enjoy the beautiful landmarks, these cottages prove to be a cherry on the top. The fancy pastel-colored cottages have an interesting story behind them, which we’re going to tell in this post. Also, we’ll review the best of these gingerbread cottages and give you tips on where to find them and when to go. Let’s start with the history of gingerbread cottages of Martha’s Vineyard!
The History of Gingerbread Cottages of Martha’s VineyardThe whimsical gingerbread cottages are more than just beautiful architectural pieces, in fact, they have deep historic roots. These homes gained popularity in the Victorian era, and at that time they were decorated with things that were common in that era. In the early 19th century, the island hosted New England Methodists who used to hold religious meetings. At first, they used to sleep in tents, but later they built permanent cottages because of the frequent visits. There were around 500 cottages that were present in the form of a cluster, and the place was known as ‘Cottage City’. Over the years, the city was renamed to ‘Oak Bluffs’ and the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA) became more interdenominational than Methodist. Most of the gingerbread cottages in Martha’s Vineyard are closed during the winter season but as summer approaches, it becomes lively and vibrant.
“How could one be in this world without feeling dismayed by it? Even if one paints flowers and gingerbread.” – Gerhard Richter
Architectural Evolution of Gingerbread Homes
The design of the cottage homes in the 1800s was made to resemble the tents that the Methodists created for their meetings. These cottages were decorated with ornaments including diamonds, scallops, hearts, and birds. Besides that, the cottages had intricately painted filigree trim and were decorated with bright colors. From 1869, every year in August, the locals adorn these cottages with paper lanterns and create a beautiful atmosphere. This annual tradition is known as the ‘Illumination Night.’ Today, there are 318 cottage houses remaining in Martha’s Vineyard, with each having a unique name. Earlier, the cottages looked more like small churches and had one or two bedrooms. Later, some of the cottages were combined to create bigger ones and renovated. The Association also offers guided tours of the campground where visitors can enjoy the eye-candy architecture of the beautiful gingerbread cottages.
Main Features of a Gingerbread CottageA gingerbread cottage is distinguished by its unique colors and architectural style. It is painted with unusual colors including maroon, teal, mustard yellow, pink or vivid sky blue. These colors highlight various parts of the gingerbread house, for example, the arches and eaves present on the porches, rooftops, and windows. The design and architecture of these cottages are more like Victorian-era homes. For instance, they feature scroll designs, lacey patterns and cutouts, steeply pitched rooflines, and fancy millwork.
Where to Find Gingerbread Cottages?Gingerbread cottages are in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. These cottages are present in the Oak Bluffs campground on the road opposite Oak Bluffs Marina. As mentioned earlier, the city was called ‘Cottage City’ but then it separated from Edgartown in 1907 to become Oak Bluffs. The city is a popular tourist destination and is packed with locals and visitors during the peak season.
Best Gingerbread Cottages of Martha’s VineyardThere are around 300 gingerbread cottages in Martha’s Vineyard, but we are going to explore the top ten ones. The best thing about these cottages is that they are available on rent, and you can stay here while you’re in Oak Bluffs.
The best gingerbread cottages of Martha’s Vineyard:
1. The Cinderella Cottage of Oaks Bluff
Address: 41 Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 Phone number: +1 (508) 696-7777 City/Town: Oak Bluffs State: MassachusettsThe Cinderella Cottage is a beautiful gingerbread home in Oak Bluffs on a gorgeous tree-lined street. The cottage is located only a short walk from shops, restaurants, galleries, and the beach. It is fully furnished and has a spacious living room, a formal dining room, and a fully equipped and modern kitchen with breakfast nook. There is a beautiful garden surrounding the house and a cute private patio for a relaxed dining environment.
2. La Bella Sorella
Address: 4/10 mi to Oak Bluffs Town Beach City/Town: Oak Bluffs State: MassachusettsLa Bella Sorella is a beautiful New York Style Cottage built in 1868. The cottage is located just 4 minutes from the town and 10 minutes from the Pay and Inkwell Beaches. It has four bedrooms, and all of them are located upstairs, with a maximum capacity of 8. There is a vintage style kitchen downstairs just beside the living room and a small bath. Besides that, there is a large, beautiful porch which is perfect for sitting outside on a pleasant evening.
3. Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association
Address: 80 Trinity Park Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 Phone number: +1 508-693-0525 City/Town: Oak Bluffs State: MassachusettsMartha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association provides walking tours and gingerbread cottages for rent. The tours start at Tabernacle and last for 1.5 hours. The gingerbread cottages here are privately owned and rented and the MVCMA office facilitates communication between the owners of the cottages and the visitors. Their private cottages cost anywhere between $2000 and $4000.
4. Renovated Victorian Home
Address: 2 Blocks to Beach, Town & Parks City/Town: Oak Bluffs State: MassachusettsThe Renovated Victorian Home is located just a few steps from downtown Oak Bluffs. While you’re staying at this cottage, you can also visit the Oak Bluffs Harbor that is only a short stroll to it. Besides that, you’ll get to enjoy a variety of shops, eateries, and beaches. The cottage is fully equipped with comfortable furniture, outdoor seating, and beach chairs and linens. There is a vineyard and a front porch too to enjoy the cool breeze.
5. Elegant Oak Bluffs Victorian Home (Akwaaba Manor)
Address: 1/10 mi to Oak Bluffs Town Beach City/Town: Oak Bluffs State: MassachusettsElegant Oak Bluffs Victorian Home is only a few steps from the beach. There are a variety of ferries, shopping centers, and town parks. This cottage features a wrap-around porch with water views and an enclosed sleeping porch. Besides that, there is a beautiful living room, cozy breakfast nook in a modern kitchen, a dining room, fully upgraded bathrooms, and a laundry room. Plus, there is enough space for parking in the street.
6. The Carousel House
Address: 37 Ocean Avenue, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 City/Town: Ocean Park State: MassachusettsThe Carousel House was built in 1865 and was also featured in the New York Times. It is a beautiful Victorian home in Ocean Park where the President also stayed. The home is completely renovated and is now fully equipped and furnished. Besides that, there are quaint shops, restaurants, grocery stores, galleries, liquor stores, and ice cream parlors.
7. Copeland District Victorian Home
Address: Across from town beach Phone number: +1 (508) 696-7777 City/Town: Oak Bluffs State: MassachusettsThis home in the historic Copeland District, is one of the newly renovated gingerbread cottages of Martha’s Vineyard. It is only a few steps from Inkwell Beach and nearby you’ll find shops, restaurants, and other forms of entertainment. It is a spacious 3,000 sq. ft. home and can accommodate up to 16 people.
8. East Chop House
City/Town: Oak Bluffs State: MassachusettsEast Chop House is a beautiful vacation home in Oak Bluffs. It was built in 1885 and features 6 bedrooms. It has a beautiful vintage kitchen and a cozy dining area. The best thing is that this cottage house is close to the Jetty beach and there are several restaurants, shops, and entertainment options near it. The on-site amenities include refrigerator, coffee maker, toaster, stove, dishes, and more.
9. The Legacy House
Address: 1/10 mi to Oak Bluffs Town Beach City/Town: Oak Bluffs State: MassachusettsThe Legacy House is situated only a few steps away from the Inkwell Beach. It is in a peaceful and serene locality and is perfect for a summer getaway. The gingerbread cottage house features 5 bedrooms, a large sitting room, a dining room, and a wrap-around porch. There is ample street parking available too and is overall a perfect place for two families.
10. La Sirena
City/Town: Oak Bluffs State: MassachusettsLa Sirena is also known as the ‘Mermaid of Oak Bluffs.’ It is a 155-year-old house, making it one of the oldest gingerbread cottages of Martha’s Vineyard. Only 10 minutes’ walk from the beach, this house features 4 bedrooms, a cozy porch, a small living room, a dining room, and a kitchen with lots of natural light. There is a private patio too with a grill, which is perfect for family meals.