The Early Days
The earliest record of the land around
Greenwood House is May 1886 when Elisha Luce sold the land to
the left of Main Street, which now includes the land around Greenwood
Avenue, to John H. Crowell.
A House is Built for Mrs. Hinckley
Around the turn of the century, the
Hinckley family owned the large, gray, 3 story building on Main
Street, which is two doors down from the Vineyard Haven Library.
The Hinckleys ran a funeral home and the garages currently behind
Greenwood House were used to store caskets. Laura Hinckley, the
matriarch of the family, her son, Nelson, and his family lived
in the large house. Nelson offered to build his mother her own
home, just around the corner. Mr. Jesse Smith sold the property
to the Hinckleys for $575! around 1906. Built in the bungalow
style which was popular at the time, the house was warm and comfortable.
The stairs climbing up to the second floor to the bedrooms were
gradual and at an easy slant, designed particularly for her.
Shortly after, the Hinckleys purchased
the property to the west of Greenwood House and built a more opulent
Victorian house for the expanding family. To this day, the name
remains the Hinckley House.
At the turn of the century, Greenwood
Avenue became a popular neighborhood. The current library had
been a summer home and was donated to the Ladies' Library League
by the John R. MacArthurs in 1909. (The old library was torn down
and rebuilt in 1967 and remodeled again in 1999 to its present
The Hancocks had their home just up on N.William St., next door
to the Bangs. Mr. Hancock built a house for his daughter, Miss
Esther Hancock, in the late 1800's between the current library
and the inn. He also built a house for his other daughter and
her family next to the library on Main St. The president of the
bank, Mr. Luce, and his wife lived in the corner house of Greenwood
and N. William St. with beautiful gardens extending to included
the large grove on the corner. The Superintendent of schools,
Robert Martin, lived across the street in the house with the large
The Castellos Move to Greenwood
Harry F. Castello (b.1844) and Caroline
F. Castello (b.1849) came to the Vineyard from Rhode Island. They
owned and operated the grand Tashmoo Inn in town on Main and Church
Street, later moving the building away from the hustle and bustle
to the corner of Main and Tashmoo. Sometime between 1906 and 1912,
they purchased Greenwood House and made it their home.
Harry came to be known as the oldest
Civil War veteran living on the island. He was a private in the
Rhode Island infantry during the Civil War. In subsequent years
and as late as 1939, at the age of 94, he marched in the island
Memorial Day Parade. Many people remember him, marching in his
Civil War uniform. He often sat on the front porch and chatted
with passer bys. He was featured in a photograph with other old
timers in the Gazette. We have also been fortunate to have found
one photograph of him sitting in the backyard.
Capt Hartson Bodfish, Harry Castello,
Ted Fortin at the flag raising Memorial Day Owen Park 1937
Mrs. Castello loved her new home. At
that time the house had a single bathroom on thesecond floor.
The open front porch extended clear across the front of the house,
including the glassed in section that is now part of the first
floor guest room. All the rooms had plenty of windows to insure
a nice breeze during the hot and humid summers. The house had
a full basement as well as a full attic (which is now our penthouse
guest room suite, remodeled in the late 1980's). Mrs. Castello
rented rooms in the house during the summer, with everyone sharing
the one bath.
The Castellos continued to live in
the house for many years through the thirties and into the forties.
Greenwood House Has New Owners!
Vineyard Haven Harbor 1948
In l988, both properties, the Greenwood House and
the Hinckley House next door, were sold to Karl and Lynn Buder,
well established innkeepers on the island since the early 80's
and owners of the successful Thorncroft Inn on Main Street. They
made the Hinckley House their home and continued to operate the
Greenwood House as an inn. They renovated the attic and enhanced
all the guest rooms.
New Owners Once Again!
Larry and Kathy, guests at the Thorncroft
Inn in the early 80's, frequently visited Martha's Vineyard from
California. Larry worked in Silicon Valley for 28 years and Kathy
taught elementary school. As many people are apt to do, they fell
in love with the island and Kathy secretly laid plans to retire
here. Eventually buying a summer house in Vineyard Haven, they
summered here through the mid 80's and early 90's. While here
for Christmas vacation in December 1993, thinking of making some
changes, they listed their summer house for sale and took home
the real estate guide for the island. While delayed at the airport
because of bad weather, they began looking at the listings and
came upon the advertisement for Greenwood House. Having known
the Buders, over the years and being inspired by their business,
the ad read like a bolt of lightening and spoke right to them.
"Thinking of a new career?
How about as an Innkeeper!
This charming turn-of-the century bed and breakfast offers...."
Call it fate or a desire for a life-style
change from the hectic pace of the Silicon Valley, that night,
while flying home to San Francisco, they configured their finances
on cocktail napkins and agreed to buy the Greenwood House and
make the move! The next morning, Larry called Karl and the deal
began. Never having been inside the inn, but knowing Karl and
Lynn, they were confident about their offer. They flew out in
February, walked through the house and finalized the offer. With
the help of faxes, the telephone(no e-mail yet) and Karl and Lynn's
expertise with all things inn-keeping, the paperwork, inspections,
legal "stuff" was smoothly taken care of. Driving out
from California with the bare necessities, on April 26, 1994,
Larry and Kathy became owners of the Greenwood House, with guests
staying that night!
Having quit his job, Larry became the
primary innkeeper, while Kathy continued to commute between California
and the Vineyard for the next 5 years, teaching school. Larry
became immediately comfortable with his new life and home. He
initiated to-do lists, (that continue to this day) bought a computer
and created his own program for the business. He prepared delicious
breakfasts and cleaned all the rooms, took the reservations, served
on the Tisbury Business Association Board, ran with members of
the local running group and joined the Mink Meadows Golf Club.
He is fond of saying that the worst day in inn-keeping is still
better than an average day at his old job.
Eventually, Kathy taught half year
in California and part time at the Tisbury and Oak Bluffs Schools.
But by 1999, she decided the commuting days were over and moved
permanently to Martha's Vineyard. The plans to live here FULL-time
had finally come to be! Her adjustment to inn-keeping came as
easily as Larry's. Her comment is, that teaching and inn keeping
are really very similar. In both jobs you work only half a day,
that is, 12 hours!
* * * * * * *
We continue to enjoy our career as
innkeepers, opening this beautiful home to visitors and friends
and hope to continue to welcome guests for many years to come.
As the years go by, it's hard to imagine doing anything else.
We love meeting the interesting and friendly visitors to Greenwood
House. We hope your stay is comfortable and now, you know the
"rest of the story".
* * * * *
We thank the many people who have contributed
information to this brief history of this beautiful home. The many people who grew up in the
neighborhood and stop by the house and reminisce about fond memories
and stories of the people who lived in this house are always a
delight and the source of new information!
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