Villa Rosa // 1875

This Victorian mansion in Oak Bluffs was built in 1875 as part of the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Development, a private off-shoot development inspired by the success of the Wesleyan Grove campground. The Stick style house was occupied by wealthy businessmen and their families from its completion to after WWII. The home was purchased by Joe Overton of Harlem, NY, likely the home’s first Black owner. Under Overton’s ownership, Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and other civil rights leaders visited what has come to be known as the Summer White House for African Americans. Overton was New York’s first African American labor organizer and president of NAACP New York Chapter. The home served as an informal inn, which provided a safe night’s stay for African American elite visiting the island. There was a guestbook with the signature of nearly every major Civil Right’s organizer in it, even Fidel Castro stayed here once. The home is now owned by Valerie Mosley, who named it after her grandmother as Villa Rosa.

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