Jonathan F. Scott



Copyright 1985, University of Minnesota.  Revised and updated 2013







I would like to dedicate this to my late father, Henry E. Scott Jr., who was my best advisor, my inspiration, and who encouraged me to make this research available to all who might be interested.




I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to all those people who made this dissertation possible. The list is long, and while, unfortunately, I am unable to name them all individually, I remain grateful nonetheless.

I mention first the late Professor Carl Sheppard who took over my thesis committee after Donald Torbert had retired, and directed me to this topic. He had the foresight to understand what a valuable and important subject this could be, and his early guidance gave me the direction I needed to carry out the research successfully. I am also deeply grateful to Professor Melvin Waldfogel who later took over the chairmanship of my committee, coordinating all communications with the other advisors, and giving me encouragement and guidance through the completion of this project. Professor Marion Nelson was an influential teacher and an inspiring lecturer on wooden architectural traditions. I would also like to thank Ellen Stekert and Russ Maynard who read the manuscript and provided valuable insights as members of my examining committee.

I am very much indebted to Anne Baker who did the extremely fine restoration work on the Vincent house, the first seventeenth century Island house to receive such treatment. It was, in fact, extremely propitious that her work had been completed just before I began my research; for without her findings many aspects of this study would have been extremely difficult to pin down, and many leads would have been missing. When I was still undecided about my topic, she expressed to me her belief that there was indeed a treasure trove of early, historically significant houses here on this Island, and she encouraged me to make these the subject of my research.

My father, the late Henry Scott, was my best counselor and friend. He accompanied me on my explorations of Island houses, making notes, helping me to take vital measurements, and pointing out things that I had missed. When there were problems, he was the one with the knowledge and insight to help me figure out possible conclusions. He also did many of the fine backup drawings and careful plans that are included in the text.

I have had gratifying support and encouragement from the Vineyard community: from all those who opened their houses to us, to those who contributed pertinent photographs, information, and family histories. The staff at the Dukes County Historical Society (now the Martha’s Vineyard Museum) made their valuable collection available to me; especially my thanks go to the late Art Railton, the director, who located important historical maps, many of which are illustrated herein, who gave me numerous good leads and suggestions, and even published four of my articles on this subject in the Bulletin of the Historical Society. I would also like to thank the staff of the Chilmark Library for helping me locate difficult to find material, and cheerfully putting up with my special research needs. A very special thanks must go to Sara Crafts, whose careful work on the manuscript and editorial advice have been invaluable.

Finally, I would like to express a debt of gratitude to my family, my parents, and especially to my wife, Marie, who for many years has been a supportive and encouraging presence in my life, and whose love and patience have been unfailing.





Part I: The Early History of Vineyard Houses, Their Evolution and Formative Influences

            Chapter 1: The Early Settlements

            Chapter 2: Indian Wigwams and First Shelters of English Settlers

            Chapter 3: The Distinctive Vineyard House

            Chapter 4: The Earliest Houses: Evidence of the One-Room Deep Plan

            Chapter 5: English Influences

            Chapter 6: Planks, Plymouth, and the Influence of the Dutch

            Footnotes to Part I

Part II: The Typical Vineyard House

            Chapter  1: Siting Patterns of the Early Houses

            Chapter 2: Stone Work and Foundations

            Chapter 3: The House Frame

            Chapter 4: Construction of the Colonial Vineyard Roof

            Chapter 5: The Rooms

            Chapter 6: Paneling

            Chapter 7: Windows

            Chapter 8: Chimneys and Fireplaces

            Footnotes to Part II

Part III: A Documentation of the Houses of Martha’s Vineyard Built Before 1730

A.   The Early Houses of Edgartown


1.     The Isaac Norton House

2.     The “Governor Mayhew House”

3.     The Vincent House

4.     The Dunham-Brainerd House

5.     The Desire Coffin House

6.     The Linton House

7.     The Norton-Achelis House

B.    The Early Houses of (West) Tisbury


1.     The Athearn-Anderson House

2.     The Robinson-Bruno House

3.     The Standish-Whiting House

4.     The Henry Luce House

5.     The Look-Baker House

C.    The Early Houses of Chilmark


1.     The Mayhew-Hancock-Mitchell House

2.     The Allen-Stanley House

3.     The “Barnhouse

4.     The Mayhew-Whiting House

5.     The Mayhew-Smith House

6.     The Mayhew-Clark House

7.     The Little-Goff House

8.     The Mayhew-Meinelt House

9.     The Norton-Harris House

10.  The Mayhew-Copley House

11.  The Norton-Askow House

12.  The Hillman Cagney House

13.  The Adams-Knowlton House

Footnotes, Part III