That was how Woods Hole was described by a national news reporter after a small plane crash brought reporters flocking to Woods Hole in 1999. We have to commend the technical accuracy. Amidst the chaos, Woods Hole has retained its small village appeal and fishing is still part of the daily scene. On an August afternoon visit to the docks next to the Aquarium you may find a number of small commercial fishing boats and a box truck loading fresh fish for a Boston wholesaler. Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) operates the Gemma to collect research specimens and The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) operates larger fishing vessels that conduct research that is used to help shape their regulations. Woods Hole isn’t a fishing large port but with Woods Hole Oceanographic, MBL, Fisheries, and the fishing fleet there is always activity on the docks.
The small village flavor is due in part to the fact that Woods Hole is one of Falmouth’s seven historic districts. The historic district designation may drive property owners crazy but it hasn’t frozen Woods Hole in 1975 when the Historic District was created by a special act of the legislature. The district covers the heart of the village east of the draw bridge and extends up School Street and down Church Street to the lighthouse. There are Federal Style, Greek Revival, and Victorian homes as well as commercial and institutional buildings. Owners who appear before the Commission can expect detailed discussions about their choice of windows, exterior trim, and paint colors. The design review guidelines are contained in a 92 page document. Hopefully change will come slowly and Woods Hole will still have the feel of a small fishing village for many years to come.
As far as being “off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard”? It depends on your perspective; the same can be said about Portugal and that’s also a remarkable destination.