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Widow's Walk

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Martha's Vineyard Museum

A rooftop platform or room. The structure provided a place to observe the water from afar. More importantly it provided easy access to chimneys, enabling inhabitants to pour sand down them in the event of a chimney fire. Popular myth explains that these were used by wives of whalemen hoping to see their husbands return from sea. Few women in the 19th century would have had spare time to spend on the roof watching for distant sails.

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