The devastating Bunch of Grapes/Cafe Moxie fire of last weekend was not the first disasterous fire in Vineyard Haven history. In December of 2001 the Mansion House hotel burned to the ground… it reopened in August 2003.
According to the book: The History of Martha’s Vineyard by Arthur R. Railton.
On Aug 11, 1883 a fire started at Crockers harness factory on Main St in Vineyard Haven. Within minutes flames fanned by northeast winds engulfed buildings on both sides of the street.
The fire was spotted around 9pm, church bells were rung to alert the townspeople. Vineyard Haven had no fire department. One of the few phones in Vineyard Haven was at the grocery store, from there a call went out to Cottage City (Oak Bluffs) which had two fire engines. It took more then an hour for the fire truck to reach Vineyard Haven as the heavy equipment had to be pulled by men on foot. In the meantime a bucket brigade was started in Vineyard Haven by its townspeople using leather fire pails that were required to be kept in every home. Despite their valiant efforts, after the fire raged for six hours, 60 or so buildings had burned to the ground.