Titticut Follies was the name of a documentary film that exposed the inhumane conditions at Bridgewater State, once a hospital for the criminally insane. Titticut is the Wampanoag name of the nearby Taunton River, and also the former annual show the inmates put on. Importantly though, the controversy caused by this film that was banned for many years in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is credited with the closure of just about all similar mental institutions in the state. Of more relevance is that Titticut Follies is the name of the beautiful guest house at 37 Narragansett avenue owned by my buddy Renee Balter and her husband Bruce, who bought it in 1981 from Sue Shaw who inherited it from her mother, Edith Berger. Edith ran it as a guest house with no name and when Sue took it over, she was married to a comedian named Bob Shaw and they made it into an official lodging house. Bob thought it was such a wacky business, and, being the comedian in the family, named the Oak Bluffs guest house Titticut Follies after the documentary. Renee and Bruce look forward to seeing guests who keep coming back every year, some for over 20 years and others every summer for 33 years. Titticut Follies – built in 1870 – is one of 300 homes listed on the 1978 inventory conducted by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and was once owned by Charles Strahan, the owner of the Cottage City Star – and the man who gifted Oak Bluffs with the statute of the Confederate soldier across from Trinity Church. Renee and I served on the commission that established the Cottage City Historic District and of course such tidbits delight us both.
Folks on social media have been buzzing appropriately enough, about the website BuzzFeed that recently proclaimed Oak Bluffs as one of 24 Small Towns in New England You Absolutely Need To Visit. Cited in the complimentary piece were Isabelle’s Beach House and eateries Nancy’s, Lookout Tavern and Back Door Donuts. Ocean Park was noted as a great place for people watching and the Flying Horses and Circuit avenue each received positive verbiage. I was interested to see that one of the pictures included was taken from the Steamship dock looking south, up the hill on Seaview avenue at low tide, along Town Beach. It would be nice if the old metal railing that lines the outstanding view could be replaced as part of the Town’s new boardwalk project with one that better reflects the Victorian architecture of the Cottage City historic district.
Thanks again go to our diligent Board of Selectmen – and congratulations to Greg and Dan Martino, the young men who have persevered with their plan to build a small Oyster farm off of Eastville Beach. The benefits of a new homegrown fishery include locally grown food, cleansing the water and an appealing business consistent with Island mores.
Senator Dan Wolf is having a grip and grin to share legislative happenings with voters at the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Speaking of which, congratulations to proprietors J.B. Blau and Alex Nagi whose newest venture Copper Wok is one of the more anticipated events of the year — even though it’s not in the Island’s favorite Town of OB. It’s really different going to Vineyard Haven to eat but worth the agonizingly long trip.
The Martha’s Vineyard League of Women Voters hosts a candidate’s forum at the Library Thursday at 7pm for those running for office in Oak Bluffs. Presentations will be made and questions are encouraged.
Next Saturday, March 29, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Martha’s Vineyard Museum is looking for photographs taken here during the 1960s. If you have pictures to share curators will scan them to add to the Museum’s digital collection and they may be included in the upcoming exhibit, Sea Change: Martha’s Vineyard in the 1960s. All images will be returned immediately. For more information, contact Anna Carringer at 508-627-4441 extension 114 or by email.
The annual Oak Bluffs warrant for town meeting is included in this week’s paper (unfortunately it’s not on the Town website yet) and I encourage you to read it before the town meeting on April 8th. Elections are April 10.
The Town is officially making Wamsutta avenue one way and getting rid of the little triangle that intersects Pocasset and Katama. Hat’s off to Richie Combra and his crew, not just for this but for the proposed new sidewalk from the harbor to the Arts District — and the soon to be renovated Niantic Park.
Keep your foot on a rock.