The Vineyard is home to many celebrities, some that were born here, some that find their way to the beautiful island, and some that just come for the summer. Bob Carroll is an island celebrity, born and raised on South Summer Street in Edgartown. Bob has done so much for Martha’s Vineyard and after 90 years, he still calls the island his home.
At one point Bob owned the Seafood Shanty, Harbor View Hotel, Kelley House, Edgartown Marine and other prime real estate all at the same time. How did he turn into the successful businessman? It all started with a coffee shop. In the 50’s his friend leased him a coffee shop where you could buy a cup for 10 cents. He realized men would come in, buy a cup, and then sit there all day not allowing anyone else in thus preventing the shop from making a profit. Bob simply raised the price of coffee and his problems were solved
Bob then realized that Edgartown needed another restaurant. He bought a building and made a little restaurant out of it, this was the Seafood Shanty. The Seafood Shanty is still a popular pick for islanders and tourists and often has lines out the door.
Four years after the success of the Seafood Shanty, in 1965, Bob took out a loan from the Plymouth Savings Bank and bought the Harbor View Hotel for $225,000. Bob did so much for the hotel: he changed the lay out of the rooms, gave the main building guest rooms back its beautiful view of the lighthouse by changing the locations of the bathrooms, added a swimming pool, added the 3 story Governor Mayhew building, and extending the traditional 3 month season by bringing in groups for conferences in the spring and fall. The 3 story, 51 room, Governor Mayhew building was a hit right away to the public. It sat right next to the pool and had seventeen twin-bedded rooms. Each floor had its own electric heater and the building paid for itself in the first two years.
Soon after the Harbor View, Bob bought the Kelley House and Edgartown Marine. Bob was very well liked and respected through out the island. Not only was he well known for all of his business and success, but he served as an Edgartown selectman, which also made him a police commissioner, from 1960-1970. He said that he could get anyone out of trouble in half an hour. Bob played himself as a police commissioner in the movie Jaws that was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard in 1975.
Bob was 62 when he got out of the hotel business for good. He sold the Harbor View in 1986, but still calls it his home. Being the smart businessman he is, Bob negotiated a lifetime tenancy in the penthouse atop the harbor view. Bob currently resides there and is celebrating his 90th birthday tonight at Water St.
Happy birthday Bob!