The Martha’s Vineyard town of Edgartown was founded by English settlers in 1642 and was later incorporated in 1671. 

 

The first homes on the island were simple, one story, wooden shingled houses reflecting the settlers puritan heritage and the need to withstand the heavy winter winds.  By the mid 1700s people began to add second stories to their homes and the Cape style evolved into the Colonial style.

 

Architecturally, Edgartown is best known for the stately Greek Revival mansions built by whaling captains in the early 1800s when Edgartown was one of the top whaling ports in the world.  These large, typically white houses feature widow walks – top floor rooms and balconies where the captains’ wives would watch and wait for the husbands to return from sea.  A series of these captain’s houses are clustered on North Water Street. 

 

20th (and 21st) century construction includes a mix of the earlier styles as well as large shingled summer homes referred to as Camp Houses.