Yesterday, for the Edgartown Inn Martha's Vineyard began in the year 1798 when the present Inn was built as a residence by Captain Thomas Worth, at a time when whaling captains from Edgartown sailed around the Horn and into Pacific whaling grounds. The captain's son, William Jenkins Worth, was christened there in 1804 and grew up to become a hero of the Mexican War. It was for him that Fort Worth, Texas was named.
A few years later, it changed from a private residence to an inn, first as the Gibbs House, later as the Norton House, eventually as the Edgartown Inn conveniently located in the heart of Edgartown.
During its long and distinguished career as one of the fine colonial inns of the New England coast, the Edgartown Inn has played host to many notable guests. At the height of his career, Daniel Webster was denied admittance because he was dark-skinned and thought to be an Indian, but later returned as a guest.
Nathaniel Hawthorne stayed at the Inn on and off for almost a year. He had come for a rest but stayed to write "Twice Told Tales". Romance reportedly crept into his busy schedule in the form of Eliza Gibbs whom he courted in Edgartown. She greatly admired his stories and he gave her autographed copies of his books. But she turned him down when he proposed, perhaps balking at the idea of a lifetime with his brooding intellect.
Brass plaques, presented by the Daughters of the American Revolution, commemorate the visits of these two distinguished Americans. Other celebrity guests have followed down the years, including Senator Charles Sumner, 19th century opponent of slavery, and John F. Kennedy, a guest on occasion when he was a Senator from Massachusetts. In the main house our rooms are named after these early guests.
Distinguished guests from the past present a challenge for the future, and every effort is being made to meet that challenge. The structure remains much the same, and so does the long tradition of charm and hospitality. Changes that have been made are largely those that insure guests the comfort and convenience of first-class accommodations.
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