How do Hansel and Gretel decorate their home, and are there any fairy godmothers or elves, even, who reside in the Oak Bluffs Camp Ground? Walking along the winding paths, stopping in small clearings or chatting with people seated on the porches certainly makes one wonder about this magical land of Gingerbread Cottages. But it also begs the question — are they as enchanted on the inside as the outside.
On Wednesday, August 13, the 19th annual Gingerbread Cottage Tour will once again help to answer this question. This year six cottage owners will open their doors to the public to benefit the Tabernacle Restoration Fund.
All the cottages on this year’s tour were built between 1869 and 1876, and each has retained some architecturally significant original features. Some early campgrounders enlarged their homes by combining cottages together, as in the Merrill house. The Parker and Hohenthal cottages have sunset views each evening (looking out across Sunset Lake) from their front porches. The Sipperly cottage and the Allen cottage each contain architectural details from the original construction, and the Maxymuik cottage served as the original home of Camp Jabberwocky in 1953.
Tour tickets are $25 and includes refreshments. Tickets can be purchased at the Tabernacle on the day of the event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The last ticket will be sold at 2 p.m. Tickets are also available in advance at mvcma.org and at the Cottage Museum.
13 Siloam avenue - Lingerlonger
Owners: Stephanie and Richard Parker
The Parker cottage was built in 1871. The name Lingerlonger seems appropriate for a cottage across the street from Sunset Lake, but the owner was told that it is actually the name of a retreat in North Carolina. Although there is a modern kitchen with soapstone counters, the cottage has many original features. The living room has gothic windows with indoor shutters and tongue and groove boards on the walls. The front two second floor bedrooms also have original wall boards. There are several old maps of Cottage City and Oak Bluffs hanging in the cottage. Part of the original porch has been enclosed and serves as a spacious pantry/storage area.
14 Siloam Avenue — Hohenthal Cottage
Owners: Eleanor and Norman Hohenthal
Although the Hohenthal cottage was built in 1876, most of the original features are no longer visible because they have modernized it into a comfortable year-round home. There is sheetrock throughout, however an original door is preserved under the stairs. The downstairs has an open living room, dining area, and kitchen, as well as a master bedroom and bath. The porch provides a westerly view of Sunset Lake.
17 Commonwealth Avenue — The Hare/Hunter/Hound Cottage
Owner: Kathryn Allen
The Hare/Hunter/Hound Cottage is named after the figures clearly visible in the gingerbread along the roof. It was built in 1871, has horsehair plaster on the walls, and original gothic windows with eyebrows. Kathryn Allen recently purchased the cottage and has done extensive interior renovations while still respecting its history. Almost every room has a display of artifacts that she found in the house when she moved in, showing snippets of the lives of former owners. The beautiful vanity in the bathroom was built from a breakfront that was originally in the dining room. There is a view of Sunset Lake from both the kitchen and the back bedroom.
18 Commonwealth Avenue — Happy Daze
Owners: Nicholas Maxymuik and Candee Cintron
This 1876 cottage was home to the first Camp Jabberwocky in 1953. Helen Lamb, a speech therapist at a cerebral palsy clinic in Fall River, decided that some of the children with whom she worked deserved to have a vacation at the beach, just like her own children. Her sister owned a tiny 680 square foot cottage in the campground called Happy Days and during that first summer, Helen and a counselor brought several disabled children to spend a week at the beach.
Helen’s sister, May, and her husband disagreed on how to spell the name of the cottage. One preferred Happy Days while the other liked Happy Daze. They created a two-sided sign that could be easily changed. The current owners purchased the cottage in 1999 and chose to expose the Happy Daze side of their cottage name sign. The front of the cottage has a beautiful double hung stained glass window on the second story.
22 Commonwealth Avenue — Bonnie Castle
Owners: Janice Merrill and Elizabeth Currie
This site has been occupied by the Merrill family since 1870. The cottage was built in 1876; prior to that, it was a tent. It is called Bonnie Castle because the original black sign with that name was in the cottage but it has no meaning to the two sisters who currently own it. Like many of the larger homes in the Camp Ground, Bonnie Castle is actually two cottages that were put together. This fact is clearly visible as you look up the stairs. There are also two side-by-side living rooms and the current kitchen was the dining room of one of the original cottages.
29 Commonwealth Avenue — Azulikit
Owners: Loren and David Sipperly
The Sipperlys purchased their 1869 cottage in 2008 and continue to use the name Azulikit that it was called at that time. It is a narrow cottage but the owners have managed to use every bit of space as efficiently as possible. There are original tongue and groove board walls and a large side porch which receives an almost constant breeze from Sunset Lake. There is no gingerbread on the cottage — only an interesting adornment at the peak of the roof.