Fall is a great time to visit Martha’s Vineyard. The tourists thin out. The air turns crisp. Pumpkins and fall foliage accent the scene. And there’s Martha’s Vineyard Halloween. In addition to fun festivals and Halloween parties on the island, you’ll hear plenty of spooky mansion stories and spirited tales of the season.
We’ve put together this list of “must-experience” haunted places on Martha’s Vineyard to help you get into the Halloween ...spirit. According to local legend, these places in Martha’s Vineyard are notoriously haunted! So, make sure they’re on your bucket list if you plan to celebrate Halloween on Martha’s Vineyard.
1. Haunted Buildings in Edgartown: The Vineyard Gazette Building
The Vineyard Gazette Building has a long history dating back to the 1760s. Long before it became home to the newspaper, the building was a ‘poor house,’ where less fortunate families lived.
So the story goes, a fight broke out between two men over one’s wife. Their conflict turned into a deadly dispute when one of the men fell off the roof and died.
Today, those who work in the Gazette Building report unexplained happenings they ascribe to spirits at play. They can’t explain coffee mugs that move on their own, the appearance of messages left on desks, and technology snafus.
Tours of the building are offered year-round, but the spookiest tours take place in the dark by candle-light.
Other Haunted Houses in Edgartown
Another haunted place in Edgartown to check out at Halloween is the former Daggett House Inn at 59 N. Water Street. It was the first tavern to sell beer and ale on Martha’s Vineyard but it’s now a private residence. This historic house has a hidden staircase and the grounds are supposedly haunted by two brothers (and their dog).
The Vincent House, the island’s oldest (1672) residence is now owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust. Originally located at the Edgartown Great Pond, alleged hauntings include slamming doors, alarms unexpected going off, and apparitions of a woman.
2. Oak Bluffs Ghosts: The Corbin-Norton House – Ocean Park
In Oak Bluffs, you’ll find Halloween hauntings at the Corbin-Norton House. Built in 1891, this gorgeous 3-story Queen Anne mansion is the flagship of Ocean Avenue. But it’s not what it appears.
It burned down—twice. The first time was in1894 and then it burned down again in 2002 when it belonged to tech tycoon Peter Norton.
Ghost-hunter Holly Nadler says spirits are behind the fires. Namedly, the spirits of two sisters responsible for multiple arsons in Oak Bluffs back in 1894 are to blame: Julie and Loulou Danzell.
Even though the house looks to be hundreds of years old, the Corbin-Norton house that stands today is a complete replica of the original eight bedroom home.
3. Martha's Vineyard Ghosts in Aquinnah: The Vanderhoop Homestead
Some say the Vanderhoop Homestead which overlooks Aquinnah’s Gay Head Cliffs is the most haunted house on the island. Here, you may hear the sound of a screaming child in the night—and if not, the story will haunt you nonetheless.
It’s the tale of a young girl who fell into a cistern on the Vanderhoop property in the 1800s. Mrs. Vanderhoop heard splashing and she and the Coastguardsmen tried to save the child. Sadly, she ultimately died. It’s her spirit that is said to haunt the property.
The historic homestead now serves as the Gay Head museum and Community Cultural Center. Whether or not it’s haunted is a matter of debate.
4. Hauntings in Vineyard Haven: The Renear House
If you enjoy ghost stories that involve doors and windows mysteriously slamming in empty rooms, then you’ll love the haunted Renear House in Vineyard Haven. That’s exactly what local legend claims, although the owner says there is no spiritual presence in the Church Street home.
Other Haunted Houses in Vineyard Haven
In addition to the Renear House, Vineyard Haven has its share of haunted houses.
Another notable haunted house is the eerie Luce House on Pine Street. There, a witch allegedly cast a fatal spell on two young lovers in residence. It’s made all the spookier because the house is darkly obscured behind the trees.
And then there’s the Sanford Estate at Windy Gates. You’ll find it in the woods near Chilmark’s Wequobsket cliffs. Built by the extravagant widow, Lucy Sanford, in the 1890s, the property was plagued by several mysterious deaths and disappearances. They include Lucy’s daughter, son-in-law (an Italian duke), and a family friend.
Today, visitors say they’ve witnessed strange lights and voices as well as ghostly apparitions. Perhaps the most memorable account is the ghostly apparition of a woman who throws herself off the cliffs after hearing of her whaling husband’s death.
Lastly, the tale of the ghost at Crying Swamp is a ghost story of a different kind. According to the history and lore of Martha’s Vineyard, this cranberry bog inshore from Cedar Tree Neck in Vineyard Haven was known to have a wailing spirit.
No one would dare visit the area at night, especially on a wild, windy evening when the unearthly sound from the swamp was bone-chilling! That is, until Lot Rogers took matters into his own hands to “exorcise” the tormented spirit.
Instead, he discovered that the horrific noise sprung not from a menacing ghost—rather from two dry boughs rubbing together.
Other Lore and Legends of Martha’s Vineyard
There are other tales. For instance, the Winged Angel of Lambert's Cove, a beautiful woman with gauze-like wings who floated above the rolling hills; the headless apparition at Ram’s Hill, whose presence in the road brought a teaming pair of oxen to an abrupt stop before he vanished into the woods; and the island folklore of two rival Native American wizards who conjured a horse from a stick and a walking stick a moonbeam.
Telling stories is a very traditional New England thing to do. It’s even more so on historic Martha’ Vineyard, where stories have been passed down through the generations, perhaps by candlelight or campfire on a foggy evening.
Whether you find them to be a trick or treat, these island stories burn bright in the lore and legends of Martha’s Vineyard. Have a Happy Halloween!