The Martha’s Vineyard Chilifest is coming up this weekend, on Saturday January 28th in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard.
FAQ’s about Chilifest –
How do I get tickets? This is hard but not impossible. You could have mailed a request to WMVY but that is sold out now. Here is what the MVY Radio website has to say about it today:
Tickets are on sale now at Shirley’s True Value Hardware in Vineyard Haven, Trader Fred’s in Edgartown and they go on sale at The Courtyard in Cataumet on Wednesday, January 25th at 6pm. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door on the day of the event.
How much are they? Tickets are $30. Limit of 4 tickets per person.
How do I get there? Steamship Authority from Woods Hole. See the schedule here.
Who is playing this year? This according to the MVYRadio website:
Under the tent
12n-1pm Mexico Lindo
2pm-2:45pm Mexico Lindo
Inside in the New Bar
4-6.30 DJ Alvzie
Will I have fun? Oh yeah.
What about the chili? Lots to pick from, all free once you are inside. Well worth the trip.
Where can I spend the night in Falmouth? Usually I would say the Woods Hole Inn but we are closed for renovations. Try the Palmer House in Falmouth, the Holiday Inn in Falmouth or Inn on the Square in Falmouth if you decide driving post the Chilifest is not a great idea.
Good luck and tell me how it went!
Construction blogging is like high school dating. You flirt, you kiss for the first time, and then all of a sudden you have nothing to say to each other. Yes, hard to imagine but I have run out of clever things to say about wood framing, Marvin windows and drywall.
In truth, quite a bit of drama unfurled at the Woods Hole Inn as we hurdled towards 2012. But I can’t really go into it in any detail without hurting feelings or pissing people off. There was the fight over an 8 foot hole in the roof (abated), the struggles with NStar (we gave up), the drama of the chimney flues (unnecessary) and the saga of crumbling masonry (ongoing). There were highs and lows, and suffice it to say that so far, the highs have it. Could I really ask for more than that?
The sub trades came and went. I met with the contractor and architect weekly. The bills came monthly and I kept a difibrulator in the office in case of heart attack. (Wow, stuff is expensive on Cape Cod! ) The bank visited to be sure we are actually spending the money they lend us for the building. There are cautionary tales told, about borrowers who bough Ferrari’s instead (hmmm) and people over 90 days in default (oooh, that sounds uncomfortable).
But we plowed onward. The wind blew yesterday, too hard for the roofers which was a disappointment as it was otherwise fortuitous : clear, dry and not too cold. We are gunning for the “rough framing, plumbing and electric inspection,” the first big step toward completion. After we pass that, then we can insulate, sprinkler and drywall. It’s all downhill from there with finish carpentry, painting and decorating. Sounds easy, huh. And here is what you came for, the photos of progress and action as of late December 2012:
We struggled with Marvin Windows as their lead time is much longer than other companies, and they are pricey. But they look really nice once installed. If they last a nice long time in the salt spray, I will be happy. Call me in fifteen years.
And the views through those windows. Wow…
Thanks for following along and see you all this summer…
I have been thinking quite a bit about the people who built the Woods Hole Inn back in the 1870’s. They looked out over the same harbor, probably more big ships in it than now, but for sure ferry service plying Vineyard Sound in the same brisk and predictable fashion. Like us, I imagine that they were happy with the way fall seems to never end on Cape Cod, enjoying the brisk wind that whistles up past the inn on sunny days and bemoaning the rain when it slowed them down. Only about 140 years ago, these guys worked entirely with hand-tools — the grandparents of our grandparents.
So the renovation of the top two floors of the Woods Hole Inn moves relentlessly onward. With each passing day, with every dormer rebuilt or ceiling gutted, we find clues about the people who came before us, the hardy souls who also lived here on the edge of the world.
Yesterday, a shingle was discovered. Every chance this would have been tossed without a glance, but Bruce (one of the framing crew) noticed and nabbed it before it went to the dumpster. Since we have no idea the exact year the building was built, this is a pretty huge clue — hard to imagine they would have re-shingled so soon, so I am going to guess August 11, 1887 is the completion date.
I can’t wait to show this to my new friends at the Woods Hole Museum. Other treasures emerged in the last few weeks. One is a large piece of upholstered furniture, maybe the side of a chaise someone planned to repair? I need to share this with Skinner to see if it has any “significance” then decide what the heck to do with it!
I particularly like this letter, part of it devoured by a nineteenth century mouse. From what I can make out it is a super top secret, highly confidential sales pitch from a pencil vendor offering pencils at an excellent price — The Long Pencil Company of Chicago Illinois writing to Mr. Briggs (a former owner), dated September 11, 1894. Long before email and Google Ad Words…
I love that mackerel is a specialty and my clever friend Nick made me laugh by suggesting that “Stillman was easier to deal with than Griffin.” I suspect the third floor of the inn may have been used by a wholesaler of salt-fish and he kept his labels in the attic. He may even have stored or cured fish up there, as the smell was really strong when the beams were cut out.
And so the clues leave us with more questions than answers, but they are fascinating. All of the building crew — from the plumber to the electrician to the framers — have gotten into the hunt. I will let you know if we find more, and you can come next summer to see the highlights on display in the lobby of the Inn. Here is the whole letter, in closing, in case you can make out more of it than I could. Perhaps someone more accustomed to this old style of writing could write a translation into the comments?
Week three of construction started today. Our crew is still demolishing the interiors, literally peeling back the onion-like layers of time to reveal the bones of the house. Our structural engineer Mark comes every so often to make sure the place is still standing. Today he told me that the wood was in excellent condition, first cut hardwood like you can no longer buy. Who ever built this did it the right way, he told me. Seems a bit unseemly, but I will admit that I beamed with pride. Like the mother of a newborn, projects feel like babies and no matter how ugly they may look, we love them.
I like to come stand in the barn-like space, gaping up two stories, ceiling and floor boards stripped away. It looks like a SoHo loft, or the Parisian atelier of a famous designer. Can’t we keep it just like this? I think. And then I remember that there are not too many fashion designers looking for rental space in Woods Hole. OK, I will stick with the plan and transform it into the weekend getaway FOR fashion designers… Yes, yes, that is it.
The guys arrive at 7 am and they work with crowbars, sledgehammers, saws. Masks are a must as the plaster dust swirls in the ocean breeze from open windows and wheelbarrows of debris head toward a revolving dumpster. There is a majesty to the work, a pace respected to the minute. Breaks are observed, meals shared, and “Lady on deck” shouted when I come close. I secretly wonder what they are saying when I am not there, although they may not be able to hear each other much over the blasting radio and the thud of metal on horsehair plaster. Underneath is the lathe, thin boards that were used before drywall to adhere the plaster to. They are so beautiful, my heart aches as they are carted away.
Being in there now — views of the ocean everywhere you peek — feels like flying inside the bones of a huge feather-less bird. There is a lightness — an airy feeling with the windows open, the roof space soaring two stories above you — that creates the sensation of flying. Maybe it’s just me, as the project flies along, feeling suspended in time, searching for my place in the process.
I pace the dusty boards — this will be the bedroom, here is where the new window goes, oh you can see the ocean from here! — scheming and referencing the floorplans when I get confused. I am desperate to make sure that when the dust settles, some of the majesty of the building itself, it’s strong bones and lithe walls, will still be evident. Check back in to see future progress!
This week, construction began on the new rooms at the Woods Hole Inn. With a crew of five demolition experts, the walls came down on the top floor revealing the majesty of a high-ceilinged space with amazing light and great views…when you can see through the construction dust that is.
Franko and the boys arrived Tuesday with crowbars and mallets to pound it out. Electricians stripped back the wires and a plumber came in to unhook the old claw foot tub. We pulled as much moulding as we could so we can re-use it as we put the place back together again.
I snuck in the day before they arrived and took some “before” photos. Inn guests happily ensconced in the lap of luxury two stories below would be shocked by the state of affairs up here. The windows were blown out and boarded up after various storms years ago. There was a rabbit warren of tiny rooms, accessed by a barn-like stairway. One bath for maybe 10 cubby-sized spaces, some only big enough for a bed roll.
I have met a few people who lived up here summers in the 70s and earlier, but I don’t think it has been habitable for maybe thirty years now. One former waitress at the Landfall told me she paid $25 per week. Another former resident bragged that a lot of pot was smoked up here, back in the sixties when Woods Hole was a real hippie hang out.
The Woods Hole Inn was more flophouse than eco-destination at that point. Summer college kids slummed it with the former chauffeurs of Penzance Point estates and other retired alcoholics. One man told me his mother advised he run past the building, as there were often “unsavory characters” on the front stoop.
Here are a few photos of what it looked like just before the demo crew showed up:
It’s was really hard to photograph because the rooms were small and dark. We had already done some minor demo three years ago while renovating other parts of the building. On top of that, it appears that the piles of old air conditioners were mating with the dusty artificial Christmas trees, or something like that. That the debris was replicating in the dark is the only explanation I can come up for why the junk seemed to grow larger each time I ventured up.
But after three days with a sledgehammer, you could see the old lathe and look through walls to the windows beyond, Cape light streaming in and promising a better future. Franko told me they had found some really old work boots (see above) and other debris — fell down from the ceilings he said. A couple of really vintage brandy bottles, a pair of cotton spats with little hooks for covering the calves when riding (?), a tiny wooden sailboat-toy painted a matte blue, a dusty old stuffed kitty long forgotten by it’s childish master.
I am working on an exhibit of artifacts to trace the history of the inn. Any input from people who know more than I do would be greatly appreciated. The final will be on display in the lobby next summer so come take a look. And come back to this blog for more posts about our progress. The expected completion is spring 2012 when the Inn will re-open with 14 new rooms and suites. See you then!
Late September is often cool and crisp, punctuated by the smell of woodsmoke as people start using their fireplaces to take the chill off rather than fire up the gas-burning boiler. Grass mowing ends as the cool air ends the growing season and the tomato crop withers on the vine.
Not this year.
It has been hot, like middle-of-summer hot here for a week now. Research vessels in to prep for peregrinations to southern climes are lingering to enjoy the fine weather. Even the hard-working scientists are off early to go fishing or ride the bikepath. I know the locals are into it because I see people sneeking off from work in their bathing suits, and heads bobbing way out in Buzzards Bay on long-distance swims. In this calm, warm weather, why not?
I got out in my boat over the weekend, trudging across to Great Harbor with my oars, launching my tiny rowboat from the beach on Penzance and rowing out to my slightly bigger boat to go explore the Elizabeth Islands. I brought a sweatshirt because you never know on the water but, wow, was that unnecessary! It was so hot I was yearning to jump in by the time I had the engine fired up.
Woods Hole Great Harbor is filled with the most wonderful and eccentric boats. I love this one, a tiny tug boat all made of well-polished wood from another era. Not too practical, but adorable.
Clearly, I am a little obsessed with this vessel as I look through my photo-files for other shots of the harbor and find only more of the “Amycita.” I don’t see her off the mooring often, but I do look forward to meeting her owners. Imagine a cruise over to Oak Bluffs (a great destination on Martha’s Vineyard) in this stylish vessel!
And this is NOT the only miniature tug in our little harbor. My friend Kimberly is lucky enough to have this wonderful boat, small as the smallest skiff but ooh, what style. She was seen leaving work early yesterday madly texting to friends about a sunset tug cruise. These are the perks of living so close to the water:)
So I guess this is what you would call Indian Summer. Since my visit to Plimouth Plantation, I may need to re-name that Native People’s Summer. Whatever you call it, it is something to be relished — summer weather long after is it expected to be gone is like a gift from the Gods (the Wampanoags called him/her “Moshop”). Something to inspire us and help us prepare for the long winter ahead.
Off to swim!
The sky was glowering when I biked out of Woods Hole on the Shining Sea bike path yesterday, with a blustery wind blowing from the southeast which is where the summer storms blow in from. The breeze was warm enough, it was cool and pleasant, a perfect day to explore.
The bike path, which is one of the biggest draws to Falmouth, is on the reclaimed path of the old railroad tracks (abandoned in the 1960s). This means it is a nice straight line, far from any road except a handful you cross along the way. How rarely do we get to bike on a paved road nowhere near a car? A special experience, it makes me wish that cities and towns across the country would have to foresight to install a unique right of way such as this one.
The bike path was extended last year, and now runs 11 miles from Woods Hole to North Falmouth. I dream that someday it will extend (as the abandoned train tracks still do) all the way to the Cape Cod Canal and hook up with the path that swoops out toward Provincetown making all of the Cape safely bike-able and connecting us in a green way to our neighbors in Chatham, Wellfleet, Truro and beyond.
I am working towards riding the whole thing round trip, and yesterday I made it past the five mile marker. The first mile out of Woods Hole is in the shady beech forest, passing over several old wooden bridges the bike wheels going thump thump thump on the weathered boards. There are glimpses through the trees of the houses on Fay Road that line a private beach looking out at Vineyard Sound. Tiny intriguing foot paths veer off to the right and left with small painted “private please” signs.
About a mile up, you get your first big reveal of the ocean. Surf Drive, one of the most beautiful of Falmouth’s many beaches, stretches two miles before you, surf crashing today over the breakwaters, the shore dotted with little cabins on stilts. I think of the people who used to come here on the train, most headed to the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, and imagine that this view was an exciting moment as they emerged from the woods and saw Vineyard Sound for the first time, caught a whiff of that distinctive smell of eel grass drying in the sun, and felt the cool breeze off the water. I can only imagine this was the first real taste of summer vacation.
Yesterday, the southeasterly wind buffeted my bike as soon as I emerged from the woods. I passed the Trunk River which is a tidal pond that empties into the ocean. Herring run here in season, and fisherman gather at the breakwaters to catch fish drawn to the current. There is another small wooden bridge, and a sign about the life of the tidal river that is worth a quick stop.
From here, the path veers inland, back into the lee, past several conservation sites with salt-water pond views and walks, toward the main streets of Falmouth. The vista to the left across the Oyster Pond is particularly delightful, even on a gray day, with the Spohr Gardens in the distance. Once in Falmouth, you can take a right off the path at the bus station for a pick-me-up at the locally-run Coffee Obsession on Palmer Ave., or continue onto Main Street for ice cream, homemade fudge, cupcakes and lots of fun local shopping.
I did not stop, as the weather was still threatening. Past the village, from the path you can see the back side of the bus station, the back corners of the Steamship Authority parking lot, and the cooking vents of Seafood Sam’s then you are back in the woods again, the canopy high above you and the light filtered green with the glow of the spring leaves.
I made it up to the Sippewisset Marsh, about mile five, before the rain started coming down in those large droplets that you can almost dodge between but indicate that much more is likely on the way. I paused to look out over the marsh and read a sigh posted there about the Wampanoag. It says, among other things, that “Sippewisset” means “place of the brook” and that this was a sacred site for Native Americans on their annual peregrination towards the fishing holes and summer hunting of what we now call Woods Hole and the islands.
History buffs will enjoy learning that this marsh is also the site of Rachel Carson’s 1950’s era scientific exploration into the devastating effects of DDT (a pesticide) on the environment which inspired her to write “Silent Spring” the book that launched the environmental movement in the US, ultimately inspiring the US Congress to ban the use of DDT. Were she alive today, she would reflect again on the sacred beauty of this marsh, again filled with osprey and many other shore birds that have returned due to her clarion call. Even with the threatening rain, I pause for several minutes to appreciate this achievement, a nice confluence of the scientific with the spiritual. Louis Agassiz would approve.
The ride home, I pick up the pace as the rain starts to come in earnest. It is all subtlety downhill now, I realize as soon as I turn around, and the trip back is faster and easier. I fall into a trance as the rain drips softly from my hat and the view in reverse rushes past.
Rolling back into Woods Hole, almost two hours and ten miles later, I am ready for a snack and a place to put my wet feet up. Lobster taco time! Thank god for Quicks Hole, the restaurant on Luscombe Avenue across from the Landfall, the perfect spot for a dripping wet biker to unwind a bit before heading back to that comfortable suite at the Woods Hole Inn.
In the summer of 2010, we decided to start offering our guests a custom designed t-shirt and announced a photo contest. We asked guests to wear their “Woods Hole Inn, old number 28, Stylish Lodging and Victuals, Upper Cape Cod” shirts in unusual and visually arresting locations. We asked them to take photos and submit them to us via email or Facebook.
Ask, and ye shall receive!
A full year and many submissions later, on April Fools Day 2011 we held a staff meeting and voted on the winner. This is the most subjective of contests, we admit: What is “unusual”? What does “visually arresting” mean? Our winner, pictured above, impressed us with a gorgeous location, one that is stunningly different from Cape Cod and provides a cool contrast to the t-shirt. We liked that she was atop a mountain at a hip American winter resort. And we fell for her big smile. A smile that reminds us of the looks on the faces of our customers as they check out from the Inn, a blissed out, can you believe I’m really here? sort of face that made us all smile in return.
Jordanna wins a free two-day stay at the Woods Hole Inn, subject to availability and to be used by December 31, 2012. We hope she books soon as we are filling up fast for summer 2011 and we want her to get a great room, enjoy our pillow top mattresses, luxury linens, gourmet breakfast, free bikes to explore the Shining Sea Bikepath and easy access to the Martha’s Vineyard ferry. We are looking forward to more of her special smile!
This was a hard decision as there were many good entries. We received photos from far flung spots like Kensington Castle in England and Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole in Sedona, AZ and as well as close by ones like Hadley Harbor which is a short boat ride across Woods Hole passage. We decided to offer our runners up a free Woods Hole Inn mug, to be hand delivered when they return to the inn (many of our guests are repeat customers so we have every expectation that they will be back and if not, we will ship it).
Thanks to all for participating in our contest. Hold your breath for this year’s contest which will be announced when you check into your vintage restored room at the Woods Hole Inn. And… drum roll please… here are our runners up:
So I keep hearing about this Chilifest thing, like “Ooh, you are living here now? You HAVE to go to Chilifest…” and I am like, what is Chilifest? Well, as I learned last weekend, the Martha’s Vineyard Chilifest is an INSTITUTION. And it’s a whole lot of fun, so let me take you on my little initiation journey.
It all started days before actually, when we began testing chili recipes and trying on costumes. We settled on “Fire in the Hole” – a spicy braised short rib chili with a hint of Mexican chocolate. Steph really knocked herself out on this one and after a few sample batches I agreed, this is the one! We cooked and prepped all Thursday and Friday — smoking fresh peppers and chilis in our outdoor grill, shaving Mexican chocolate, braising an enormous pile of short ribs.
I braved snow and ice to drive to the Costume Company in Arlington (thank you Jeannie!) to rent a huge pile of Revolutionary War costumes — Fire in the Hole, like Woods Hole, get it? I lived at Staples printing banners, menus, handouts. I hired an actress to help hand them out. Yes, I am really committed to making this a big event for Quicks Hole, our groovy casual farm-to-table taco stand on the ground floor of the Woods Hole Inn.
Finally, the actual day dawned and I was up early walking from my house in the village to the Inn. The light in the early morning in Woods Hole was so stunning (I’m not out of my house this early usually!) that I wore my camera around my neck and snapped a few pictures:
Guests of the Woods Hole Inn were happily dining in the front room and I dashed through the office to grab costumes, menus, signs and more. Steph and Jay lugged gallons of cold chili in covered buckets across the street to the ferry. Amy and I followed shortly thereafter. The ferry was so packed with people, they asked 45 people to get off! Volunteers, they said. No one budged. The girl next to me snickered — she had just poured four shots of peppermint schnapps into her Dunkin Donuts extra large. She was NOT getting off and neither were we.
Once we arrived at the vast tent at the Portugese American Club, we warmed up and tried a few of the other chilis — there were 40 contestants there and more than 2000 tasters. The Corona beer was flowing freely, plenty of limes, and a great Jimmy Buffet style band was playing all your island favorites.
The place was packed by noon and we handed out a ton of our Chili to consistently good feedback. The security guy standing next to our table was moonlighting from his day job as a warden in the MV jail. He kept noticing people who had come into the jail drunk and disorderly — not a bad guy, he would say, but let’s just say We Know Him Well.
Well, we lined right up and passed out thousands of little cups of our chili. The Chilifest is a fundraiser for the Red Stocking Fund, a really great island charity. WMVY the local radio station supports it, helps judge and sells all the tickets with their promotions. We met a bunch of the DJs and so many other locals, it was really cool. Here we are as we got ready to serve the crowd:
There were regular people, drunk people, people in outrageous costumes, TV personalities, official tasters from WMVY, lots of our friends and business associates from Woods Hole and so, so much more. A picture is worth 1,000 words so here is the rest of the day in photos:
In the end, all ten gallons of our chili was handed out with a smile. We won nothing more than the joy of spending the day on Martha’s Vineyard listening to good music and laughing with new friends. We were tired, oh so very tired, but it was worth it! A great day. See you all there next year — 364 days and counting.
Fall is in the air, and the leaves are threatening to turn. Walking the beaches near Woods Hole, stunning vistas to Martha’s Vineyard as the light settles down. Maybe the phosphorescence will glimmer mysteriously in the tides. For sure, the harvest moon of the Wampanoags will fill the sky with her iridescent glamor and whisper into the souls of hardened Cape Codders about the summers to come. Winter may be around the corner, but summer will always return.
One of the finest parts of life in Woods Hole is the warm water swimming. And Nobska Beach is the very best beach in my humble opinion. Cape Cod gets the gulf stream, so the water is really lovely in the summer. And the fall.
I walked to Nobska one memorable morning. You head up the hill from the village of Woods Hole, past Little Harbor where the Coast Guard are stationed. You take a right on Church Street which must be named for the adorable stone church on the left. It was cool under the tree canopy, and the early morning light filtered through the trees and danced on the grassy curb. A few cars whizzed by me, and I smiled at the steady stream of runners and bikers (this being the path of the famous Falmouth Road Race its a popular and scenic run/bike).
Down the hill a little and then the beach emerged, the ancient light house standing guard. A small row of bath houses stands guard, for locals who like to change before swimming I guess. A woman was out in a chair early, reading a book but other than that the beach was empty. I saw the ferries headed across the Sound and the air was so clear it felt like you could reach out and touch the Vineyard.
I was particularly taken with the clarity of the water, swirling the rocks and gently lapping the beach sand. I took the picture above; it seemed to call out to me.
Try this walk some morning. You will not be disappointed.
Lobster Tacos are a sublime idea. Cold succulent lobster lightly dressed. Fresh cut red cabbage, a touch of lime on a hot corn taco?? Incredible.
New to Woods Hole this summer, the lobster taco is an inspired fusion of traditional Cape Cod with a dash of innovation from the surf shacks of Baha California.
Don’t miss this treat, and much more at the all new Quicks Hole restaurant. Its on the ground floor of the Woods Hole Inn, right next to the t-shirt shop and facing the Martha’s Vineyard ferry hides the hottest new joint in town. Word is leaking out about this place, and while it opens at 10 for lunch there is often a line of impatient ferry-goers at the door, jonesing for their fix that will be bagged and consumed on the the ferry. What’s better than the upper deck of the “Island Home” with a lobster taco, a 360 degree view of the Sound and the gulls circling jealously overhead?
Also on the menu — amazing local salads served in a fried tortilla bowl, rare yellowfin tuna burritos, sweet potato fries, hot chips with fresh salsas, made-to-order quacamole…see where we are going here?
Woods Hole Inn guests get a discount at Quicks Hole at check in.
See you soon!
Come stay in Woods Hole and use the Whoosh to explore all the shops and restaurants on Main Street, Falmouth. I like the kids bookstore called “Eight Cousins” and the toy shop is pretty awesome too. I enjoy lunch at “Laureens” where the lamb kabob is off the hook. And you should not leave without trying one of Tammy’s “CupCapes” at the gourmet cupcake shop.
The other way works pretty well too — just hop the trolley at the Falmouth Mall (or anywhere along the route) and come down to WoHo for the fresh air, great views and fun shopping. I recommend the “Sweats” tshirt shop for great selection and bargains. Don’t leave Woods Hole without trying the lobster taco at Quick’s Hole. That plus a Cape Cod beer? Leave that car behind and enjoy the green benefits of great local transportation. Perfect!
The Whoosh Trolley starts running in late June and goes until early September. Don’t miss a ride this year.
This little town is completely surrounded by water.
Woods Hole is one of the few good harbors on Cape Cod — it was a whaling port like Nantucket back in Melville’s time. In the 1860s, the peninsula was developed as a fertilizer factory. Shipping merchants from Boston were looking for a commodity to fill empty ships on the journey back from China. They settled on bird dung from a South Pacific island. When mixed with fish scraps, I guess the lime was an effective agricultural aid (is that organic?). This fine brew was shipped by railroad out of Woods Hole. I bet that smelled great on hot days.
Anyway, eventually the company literally emptied all the bird guano from their island, and the Woods Hole site was abandoned in 1889. So what happens to old factory land in America? Build a resort, of course! The thin strip was renamed “Penzance Point” (that sounds better than, say, Former Guano Factory:) Smack in the middle of the Gilded Age, (think “Gatsby”), up went Newport-style mansions. Most of these shingle-style cottages are still here, behemoths perched on the edge of the sea with spectacular water views with the great grandkids of their builders still racing to Hadley Harbor in 12-footers.
Around this time, a strong-minded local decided to improve the sound of things by renaming the town, “Woods Holl.” This had “a sylvan and romantic flavor…suggest(ing) moonlit glades and flowery dells” according to the New York Times in 1899 — and was better than the somewhat crass “Hole,” I guess. Perhaps the locals were hoping to disassociate themselves with the memory of a factory town that smelled like bird *@#%. But whatever the reason, the affectation did not stick for long. People couldn’t spell it or say it, letters to the post office were lost and with little fanfare, the name was changed back.
So here we are now, living in this little slice of heaven that I call WoHo. It’s like SoHo, only cooler (literally — there is always a breeze). I wonder what it would take to get that name on the post office door…
I like to call it WoHo. And when spring actually arrives, watch out ’cause it’s really gorgeous. When you glide into the ferry landing from Martha’s Vineyard, you can see the inn commanding the harbor in all her grey-blue shingled glory. Water views! I love being in the middle of everything but also able to meditate on the water from my room.
In WoHo this time of year, everyone is sweeping their stoops and shaking off the winter blues to get ready for the summer season. I saw Donny Estes of the famous Landfall Restaurant — he opened a few weeks ago offering customers the best waterfront view in town. And my friend Erik Gura who runs “Pie in the Sky” was puttering behind the counter even though he sliced his hand fixing his expresso machine last week.
At the inn, we have been closed for a few weeks to finish some construction on the ground floor. Our incredible construction partners (Lauren, Dan, Kat you rock) have been hustling to get it all done. We put in a new sprinkler system and upgraded all the walls and ceilings to “2-hour fire ratings” which means our old Victorian is now updated to current building code which is pretty darn cool. Born in 1878, made modern in 2008.
We have a new T-shirt shop (Cape Cod Sweats) opening on the ground floor in a few days, and we are rushing to get our burrito bar/restaurant called “Quick’s Hole, wicked fresh” open by Memorial Day. More to come on that subject.
But the weather! Can I wax rhapsodic for a minute? It’s sunny, not too hot, gentle breeze off the still wintery waters. So crisp and clear, it looks like you can reach out and grab the Vineyard. Like, who-needs-the-ferry-I’ll-swim, kinda clear.
I took my bike out of the basement and rolled up the Shining Sea bike path to where the woods melt behind you and Surf Beach yawns out like a crescent. I had to stop and just gape, it was so gorgeous. I turned back and cycled straight to “Pie” — in WoHo, a 20 minute ride earns a latte and popover.