Haunted Island

Construction at the Colonial Inn

Editor’s Note: Just in time for Halloween… this 3 part series is about the spooky events surrounding the 2006 construction of the Edgartown Residence Club on North Water Street, at The Colonial Inn.  If you are interested in more spooky (but true) Martha’s Vineyard stories, you should check out some of the books by local writer Holly Nadler, including Haunted Island.

Once, upon a time, there was no Edgartown Residence Club! We have been operating for so long now that it is hard to remember back when it was simply the Porch Wing of the Colonial Inn. The creation of the Edgartown Residence Club involved a major restructuring project. The Porch Wing was an annex to the Inn with fifteen rooms on three different floors. The project was this: to change these fifteen rooms into six luxury suites that would be available for fractional ownership. Easy enough with an industrious crew; but the building was on sand, which means there were no true right angles left in the building. Designs drawn to shore everything up and put some beams underneath the building also included plans to replace the crawlspace underneath the entire building with a full basement.

We closed the hotel for the winter so this was the sole form of excitement for us, not to mention the entire town. (A beach town in the winter is an easily entertained entity.)

We spent the month of December in a frantic scramble to empty the hotel rooms in that wing. When you look at a hotel room, it really is more full than you realize. Stationary, ironing gear, fridge, phone, toiletries, TV, bathrobes, coat hangers, shower curtains, towel racks, pillows, bedspreads, mattresses, end tables, chairs, armoires…they all have their place and they look great where they are. However, they all take up loads of space when you take fifteen of any one of those items and put them somewhere else. In fact, they seem to grow in mass.

Now, add in the fact that the armoires weigh approximately as much as a small moon. In addition, the stairwells were too narrow to allow the armoires to leave. (They originally entered by means of a huge crane jacking them up through each floor’s porch doors, and that was how they left in the end.)
The next step was to call one of the few moving companies on the island. They sent a crew of workers who may or may not have understood a word I was saying. I had to monitor each person’s load and tell him where to put it (so to speak) on almost every trip up and down stairs.  Eventually the building was empty of everything we wanted to keep. Our maintenance man, Jim, removed sinks and toilets, as well as light fixtures, mirrors, towel racks and phone jacks. It was a maintenance man’s buffet of spare parts.

Many large, loud pieces of equipment then came in, tore everything in our front courtyard out, dug twelve feet straight down and suspended the entire wing on big Jenga-like block columns. Our neighbors, who were earlier so pleased to gawk at the goings on, now turned against us. Local restaurants claimed we were driving away business, and neighbors reported that the shaking of the ground from the equipment caused stress cracks to appear in their walls.  In other words, the site had been thoroughly disturbed at this point.  That’s when Jim got bored and things got weird…


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