This was Robert J. Carroll's bench and Edgartown was his town, a place he surveyed constantly with pride and a critical eye.

Robert J. Carroll, the prominent Edgartown businessman, conservationist, raconteur and longtime Vineyard power player who was sometimes a lightning rod for controversy, died on March 31 at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. He was 90. A celebration of his life will be held at the Harbor View Hotel on Saturday, April 4, beginning at 4 p.m.



The polished hardwood floors, outdoor showers, stone countertops and crisp white paneled walls would be unrecognizable to Captains Bradley, Luce, Collins, Morse, Osborne, Rowley and Huxford, the whaling captains for whom the cottages at the Harbor View Hotel are named. Nor would the hotel employees who rented rooms in the cottages in the 1960s recognize them now.

Bob Carroll

The Harbor View Hotel closes down during the last two weeks of the year. But notice the lights blazing in the penthouse apartment. This is the home of Bob Carroll and has been ever since he sold the hotel in 1986. It was part of the contract that Mr. Carroll could build this penthouse and live in it until he died. And for two weeks each winter, during the holidays, he is the only soul alive in the hotel.


For four years, in the 1970s, as he sought to preserve the Vineyard from overdevelopment, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was a frequent — and deeply involved — Island visitor. He would sail into Vineyard Haven harbor from Hyannisport to visit close friends, the late novelist William Styron and his wife, Rose. And there would be talks late into the night about what lay ahead for the Island — then in the throes of being discovered by developers.

From Gazette editions of January, 1984: