Behind the Times on Purpose

The late artist Ray Ellis explains how he watched “this magical place” develop, in his foreword to the book Behind the Times on Purpose.

“The Charlotte Inn is an amazing success story, one that has benefited Martha’s Vineyard and the world of fine living. In the course of years, I’ve watched Gery and Paula Conover take a plain, rather tired-looking building and transform it – through vision and hard work – into a place of taste, beauty, and hospitality.

Just as a painter looks at a blank canvas and begins to visualize the painting, Gery could from the very beginning imagine what he wanted to create. That vision has helped him see things others couldn’t and recognize opportunities where others might have hesitated. He works both fast and methodically, recognizing when a book, a painting, a chair or another building will help create just the right mood.

Under Gery and Paula’s ownership, the Inn has become a place of nostalgia of the sort so many people who come to the Vineyard appreciate. They come here and see the sorts of things they grew up with, or they feel the pleasure of joining into a way of life they’ve never experienced but wish they had. It’s a way of life more common in England or France, where the past is still such a rich part of the present. Yet it’s one many yearn for, and Gery and Paula seem instinctively to recognize and share that.

Through the years, Gery and Paula have invested in the treasures that make the Inn such a remarkable spot. They know every inch of the place, and when they travel to buy antiques, they seem to know innately when something will be perfect for a certain spot – a leather chair to sit by a fireplace, a Bentwood table for a hallway, a tiny cottage in the gardens. Even the mahogany paneling in the Green Room, first seen dismantled and stored in a warehouse in London, was the perfect addition. Bought on sight, with just a few measurements, the paneling turned the room into the perfect look of an old London men’s club – and it fit with only a few minor cuts.

That’s vision, of the same sort as making the gardens a place of inspiration to me and other artists. There are so many places within the gardens of the Inn where I could spend a whole season painting, seeing something new each time I went. It’s exciting, it’s restful, and it’s inspiring, all at the same time.

It’s been a great experience for me to watch this magical place develop. I have been inspired by both my friendship with Gery and Paula and the magnificence of their creation. And I’m delighted for you to have the opportunity to share some of those moments through the creation of this beautiful book.”

– Ray Ellis, 2007

Behind the times on purpose

Behind the Times on Purpose

Behind the Times on Purpose is an elegantly designed coffee table book showcasing the manicured gardens and grounds, the meticulously restored buildings, and the extensive collections of art and antiques housed within The Charlotte Inn. Published by Vineyard Stories, with photographs by Nina Bramhall, this book is a lovely reminder of your visit to The Charlotte Inn, the perfect accompaniment to an inn gift certificate, or a source of endless inspiration for your own home renovation.

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