Wesleyan Grove: A Brief History of the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association

Oak Bluffs, MA, US
Language: English
15 Stops 0.9 miles · Walking · Teen, Adult, Elementary
11 Reviews


  • Hear from Local Favorite Tom Dresser, with video and text at each stop.
  • Experience the colorful cottages, and stories, of the Wesleyan Grove Campground
  • A delightful walk about!


The first Methodist meeting was held on August 24,1835. Nine revivalists pitched their tents on the shore of what later became Oak Bluffs harbor. They listened to preachers, prayed and sang throughout the week. Each year the Methodist Campground grew in popularity, with more and more revivalists joining the throngs. Tents proliferated. The concept of summer church services grew more popular. Steamships laden with revivalists filled the Camp Meeting Association, especially on the last Sunday of the week-long event. Certain rules were in place in the Camp Meeting Association in the 1850s: no smoking; light must burn in tent all night, a bucket of water required outside the tent; wake up at 5:30 am; breakfast at 7; lunch at noon; tea at 5:30 pm; bedtime by 10 pm. In 1858 more than 300 tents filled the 30 acres of the Camp Meeting. The first wooden cottages were built in the early 1860s. More than 500 cottages were built in the late 1800s. Today, due to moving houses and fires, about 330 cottages remain. In 1862 Massachusetts Governor John Andrew recruited volunteers for the Union Army at a gathering on Trinity Park. The open-air wrought-iron Tabernacle was erected in 1879 when a canvas tent proved too cumbersome. This was the central meeting place, or church, for the congregants. The Camp Meeting Association continued in operation until the 1930s as an exclusively Methodist program. Since World War II the Campground has diversified, accepting a broader number of people. Today 330 cottages are spread over 30 acres; about 10% are insulated for year-round use. The gingerbread cottage community is a special treat for Vineyard visitors.
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Route Details

Entrance to the Camp Meeting Association

364 ft

Wesleyan Grove

0.1 miles

The Wesley Hotel

1.12 miles

12 more tour stops

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