Early Years of Businesses in Woods Hole


During the early years of the village of Woods Hole, homes and businesses were largely concentrated around Little Harbor. There were several private ferries taking passengers and goods back and forth to Martha's Vineyard. And making ferries convenient for long-distance travelers or those obliged to wait for fair weather were several inns. The ferries, run mostly by the Parker family, used a dock at the head of Little Harbor.

There was also a fish packing and shipping business on the eastern side of Little Harbor on the location of the present Coast Guard station. This began around 1830, the first instance of a commercial industry. Codfish were transported from the Grand Banks and other areas, dried, salted, packed and shipped. Salt processing occurred all around Little Harbor.

Around Little Harbor were a number of ship's supply businesses and stores. Many of these stores were in the basement of homes and the buildings constructed against hillsides so that the store had windows and doors on the lower level and the family's living quarters were upstairs. Four of these establishments still exist; all but one are private homes. To see these, look at 563 Woods Hole Road which was built c. 1830; Number 3 Water Street (just beyond the library), the Captain Thomas Davis house (now used by WCAI and WNAN radio stations); and two houses on Juniper Point: Number 7 Little Harbor Road and 39 Little Harbor Road. The last two served marine businesses originating in Little Harbor.

Away from Little Harbor was a grist mill run by tidal flow located on the Mill Pond near the Buzzards Bay side of Woods Hole.

Davis House

Captain Thomas Davis House, c. 1870s-1880s.