Ritter House
The Ritter House is an historic house on Beach Street in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, USA, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built in 1796 on what was then known as “Quality Street“, next to the Mansion House hotel. Originally built by Jireh Luce, it was occupied early by the highly-respected Connecticut physician Dr. Rufus Spaulding (1760”“1830) until about 1812, when he returned to his home state. Dr. Spaulding ran the house as an inn, and Spaulding himself was described by historian Charles Banks as “doctor, postmaster, justice, village librarian, inn-keeper, and Master of the lodge of Masons.” Other sources note that this house was at one time a tavern, and later became the first post office and library in the town of Tisbury. The house was inherited by Dr. Spaulding’s daughter Sophronia and her husband, Thomas West. Another early resident was Stephen deNeuville (1778”“1816), aka "Stephen New", a young French sea-captain. The house was inherited by his daughter Hannah Chase DeNeuville and her husband Orrick Peck Branscomb (1809”“1859), a shoemaker and general store owner who moved to the island from Maine in the early 1830s. This house is often referred to as the “Branscomb House” in many older references. The house barely survived the 1883 fire, which destroyed the entire downtown portion of the village right to the edge of this property. Retired whaling captain Gilbert L. Smith (1832”“1928) bought the house in 1902. Mr. & Mrs. Henry A. Ritter purchased the house in the early 1900s. Henry Ritter was principal of the Tisbury School for many years and was remembered as an excellent teacher but a stern schoolmaster. By the 1920s the home was owned by Mrs. Evangeline Merrill Ritter, known to many as “the Vineyard Weaver.” The Ritter House was added to the National Historic Register in 1977 and became the Tisbury Museum. It has since become a commercial business storefront.