In the mid-1980s, the historic hotel at the head of Main street Vineyard Haven was called the Tisbury Inn, and it had seen better days.

Inn at head of Main street dates to 1769. — Tim Johnson

One Island couple saw it as an opportunity.

“Some old-time Vineyarders discouraged us from buying it, because it didn’t have a really successful back story,” recalled Susie Goldstein, who bought the inn with her husband Sherman Goldstein in February 1985.

Long called the Mansion House, the name it bears today, the inn dates to 1769 and has been ravaged by fire more than once over the centuries. The current building went up in the 1880s, changing hands, names and decorative schemes repeatedly during the 20th century.

“When we bought it, it looked like a glass of bourbon that someone had put out a cigarette in,” Mrs. Goldstein said. “It was all shades of yellow, not very pretty, and browns.”

“I called it addictive colors,” added Mr. Goldstein, a psychotherapist who practiced on the Island before taking the leap into professional hospitality.

At the time, Ms. Goldstein was teaching school and managing a gift store that needed a new location. While searching for shop sites, the couple met the inn’s owner, who quoted a price that fired their imaginations.

“I just felt completely confident that we could make that work,” Mr. Goldstein said.

“We really didn’t know much about the hotel business.” Mrs. Goldstein said. “I was a teacher at the West Tisbury School and Sherman worked for [Martha’s Vineyard] Community Services.

“But the late Cheryl Stark told us that if you work hard on Main street, you can earn a living, and we were determined to do that.”

After a months-long renovation with a new color scheme, the Goldsteins reopened the Tisbury Inn. Their first check-in was a man with a case of beer, and he wasn’t the only guest bringing his own.

Mrs. Goldstein recalled quailing behind the registration desk as she realized most of their weekend bookings were on Island for a darts tournament.

“It turned out all right,” she said. “We have had great guests through the years, and the only real theft we ever had was a couple of roofers who broke into the restaurant next door and tried to steal the cookies.”

The family that bikes — and runs a hotel and health club — together. — Melissa Knowles

The true crisis came after the hotel suffered a devastating fire in December 2001.

“It was a huge blaze,” Ms. Goldstein said. “It was very, very scary.

“We are eternally grateful that no one got hurt.”

All the Goldsteins could do was watch as the fire department battled the flames, a sight made surreal by the fact that several first responders arrived in tuxedos from a holiday benefit for the Boys and Girls Club.

An investigation later found that the chimney to an oil-fired hot water heater had come out of its flue, allowing combustible gases to accumulate until they ignited.

The couple moved rapidly to rebuild their charred and gutted inn, reopening as the Mansion House 18 months to the day after the fire.

“We had two kids in college and we didn’t have any money unless we opened the door,” Ms. Goldstein said. “Our house was on the line.”

The Goldsteins children, Josh Goldstein and Nili Morgan, grew up with the inn, where it wasn’t unusual for them to spend a sick day tucked into bed in a spare guest room while their parents worked. Josh recalls walking down the street to Yates drug store, at the age of five to use the family’s charge account.

Josh and Nili also learned the operation and business sides of the inn, and although each of them has spent time pursuing off-Island careers, in recent years they have both returned to Vineyard to work alongside their parents.

Nili also took a year off from her studies at Brandeis University to help out after the fire, before returning to finish her degree and chase a major-league dream.

“I was convinced that I was going to be the next head honcho of the Red Sox,” she said. “I got as far as giving tours at Fenway Park.”

On a visit home, she reconnected with high school classmate Dylan Morgan, and they married in 2013.

“We’re now here with two kids, being Vineyarders,” she said.

Josh stayed in the hospitality industry, but sought warmer climes during his off-Island years.

“I ran away to Florida for five years and worked in various hotels,” he said.

“I didn’t think that I would come back, but when the economy in Florida melted down in 2010, it was clearly time,” he continued. Today he too is married, owns a home on the Island and is active in community affairs.

“We really needed them at that point and we were very, very lucky that they came back,” Mrs. Goldstein said.

“We’re like a family farm. There’s always something to do.” Nili added:

“Our joke is that before Josh and I moved home to help out, they were able to handle everything.

“It’s not so much that the hotel has grown, which it has, but there’s more to find when there are more eyes looking at it.”

Josh and Nili have also brought fresh ideas to the Mansion House, Mrs. Goldstein said, while at the same time extending family tradition.

“It’s always good to have the next generation, and there are a bunch of next-generation businesses on the Island,” she said. “We’re really lucky. They give the Vineyard a sense of place.”