Vineyard Gazette
Manuel Swartz, the well-known boat builder, near Steamboat Wharf, has just built for Capt.
Manuel Swartz Roberts
Boats and boating
Vineyard Gazette
The Vanity, new catboat of Capt. Thomas Walker Pease, was launched from the yard of Manuel Swartz on Thursday morning with appropriate ceremonies.
Manuel Swartz Roberts
Martha's Vineyard Museum


The story has been told of a sculptor who was asked how he proceeded in carving the statue of an elephant. He is quoted as saying, “I merely break and cut off whatever part of the stone does not resemble an elephant and what is left has to be right.”
Of Manuel Swartz Roberts, house carpenter, boatbuilder and cabinet­maker, it was said, “Manuel sees the figure that he plans to make in the rough log before he ever picks up his tools”, and this has never been disputed by those who knew Manuel best.


When in Edgartown, we invite you to take a walk along Dock street to the northern end. There beside you is a tall grey building. Look up and up and see how it reaches into the sky with cathedral dignity. It has a tower on the front, as does any proper cathedral, and also many windows on the long sides. Farther up are rows of skylights like the clerestory in a Gothic medieval church, but our skylights leak. High in the peaks are two round windows, the glass pink with age, so it boasts two rose windows as well.


Manuel Swartz Roberts, one of the best known and best loved figures of Martha’s Vineyard, died at 6 o’clock this morning after a prolonged period of failing health. As boat-builder, craftsman, philosopher, and most of all as a wise and warmly humorous friend, he had become a legend in his own time.


Note: Mr. Leavens - visited M. S. Roberts and made notes of their talk. He had intended to write this interview as an article in the third person, but Mr. Rob­erts’ own personality so clearly emerged from the written memor­anda that the author decided to write the interview in the first person, following as closely as pos­sible the ideas and modes of ex­pression of the man who sat for the portrait.


There hangs upon a wall at the summer home of Mr. and Mrs. C. Coburn Darling at Cow Bay, Edgartown, the most perfect and eloquent record of a famous Vineyard landmark - the memorable and beloved boat building shop of Manuel S. Roberts.


There is a “For Sale” sign on the boat shop of Manuel S. Roberts at the head of the town wharf in Edgartown, a sign indicating that the historic building and the land upon which it is situated are for sale. Indicating also - and this brings a touch of near-tragedy to the picture - that this building long associated with ships, boats and salt water and men who have gone down to the sea, may enter upon a new and cheaply-gilded existence as a Gifte Shoppe - and its proprietor, as much a landmark as the building, removed from the setting which he has dominated for so long.