Patrick Ahearn FAIA was recently appointed the new chair on the Board of Trustees of the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust.
For more than 40 years, the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust has acquired, preserved and managed the endangered historical landmarks of Martha’s Vineyard, restoring living institutions to their rightful place in Island life. The Preservation Trust is a private, not-for-profit organization supported by contributions from the public and through the management of its historic properties.
All of these irreplaceable landmarks were badly deteriorated, and in many cases, threatened by demolition when the Trust undertook their restoration and permanent care. The Preservation Trust’s uniquely active Board of Trustees has assumed a leadership role as stewards of the Island’s architectural legacy. Through the commitment and generosity of the Board, members, and supporters, we are able to keep these landmarks, which are so essential to the unique character of Martha’s Vineyard, in the mainstream of Island life.
As an advocate for preservation and after restoring multiple properties owned and maintained by the trust pro-bono, Patrick is thrilled for the opportunity to contribute as the Chair on the Board of this wonderful organization.
For more information, visit their website here.
For a complete list of properties owned and maintained by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, click here.
The Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust recently purchased the 112 year old Carnegie Library for $1 and Island architect, Patrick Ahearn FAIA has accepted the invitation to help preserve this significant piece of Island history. Executive director of the Trust, Chris Scott, states their intentions with the newly obtained property: to transform the beloved library into a heritage center showcasing the trust’s 24 historic properties on the Island and the “stories they tell about the Vineyard.” To design the library’s future, we must look into its past.
“It’s such a great vision,” Mr. Stackpole said. “That’s the great thing about this Island — it reflects so many parts of human history. We’ve got it all here, so let’s flaunt it. Let’s celebrate it.”
The Historical Significance
Aside from the obvious sentimental attachment to the local library many islanders grew up with, the Carnegie Library has national and local historic significance thanks to philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and Caroline Osborn Warren, a decedent of the prominent Edgartown Osborn whaling family.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Caroline Osborn Warren donated the current piece of land and Andrew Carnegie gave Edgartown funding for the public library, which was later constructed in 1904. The Osborn family are tied to two other properties owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust: The Desire Osborn House and the Osborn Wharf. Andrew Carnegie built his name and fortune leading the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century. During his final years, he gave away nearly 90 percent of his fortune in efforts to promote his belief in the responsibility of the upper class to use their wealth to improve society. His fortune contributed to the birth of 3,000 local libraries throughout the world as well as the Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Hero Fund, Carnegie Mellon University, and more.
Over the past century, Edgartown has tried to adapt the older building for modern needs, resulting in two expansions, but it was time to move to a larger facility. The new Edgartown Public Library was $11 million project and is now located on West Tisbury Road, next to the Edgartown School.
The Carnegie Library’s past is the precedent for its future. It will continue to be a source of information to maintain its original intended use – which coincides with the trust’s mission with every property they preserve.
“What is a library? A library is a portal into knowledge and being exposed to things, and that will happen here,” Mr. Stackpole said, a maritime historian residing in West Tisbury. “It will be different, a variation, but the spirit of it is the same. There’s a continuity of mission.”
The trust launched a successful capital campaign for the project last year and raised a total of $1.8 million to support the preservation.
Patrick Ahearn will be preparing the new plans for the Carnegie Library. The idea is to maintain the original integrity of the exterior and only alter the interior to adapt to its new three main uses:
Reference Library of Local History
Visitor Orientation Exhibits
Gallery of Maritime Art
“I see the interior of the building as being a blank canvas to create a series of wonderful spaces that people can come, enjoy the art, the changing exhibits, grab something quick to eat, and really celebrate all that the trust does for the Island,” states Ahearn.
The front of the building will be dedicated to the library component with a collection of maritime literature, books about the island, and books written by residents. The 1938 and 1970s additions will be used for the exhibits and information about the remaining preservation trust properties and general history.
“The visitor center will become an important tool to educate the public about the Trust and everything they do for the island but, at the same time, it will become a great opportunity for people to host social functions in the building, i.e. plan a party or book a room for lectures, talks on history, architecture, whaling, the harbor…. anything people want to do,” said Ahearn. “It will become part of the community as a whole and for that, I am very excited.”
Listed are the remaining 23 properties owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust:
Alley’s Farm Stand
Before: A garage for a Model A delivery truck
Now: A farm stand offering local cheese and produce
Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury (1858)
Before: A general store
Now: The oldest operating business on the island
Chappy Schoolhouse (1850)
Before: One room school building in New England
Now: Center for environmental learning for Chappy kids
Desire Osborn House (1776)
Before: Home of an owner of a merchant ship transformed later for commercial use
Now: The oldest commercial structure on Main Street in Edgartown
Dr. Daniel Fisher House (1840)
Before: Built by Fisher, a whaling ship owner and one of the wealthiest men in the country at the time and later owned by Senator William Morgan Butler
Now: Restored to be used as the main offices of the Trust and provides a location for private parties
The Edwina B. (1931)
Before: One of only three surviving catboats designed and built by Manuel Swartz Roberts
Now: Used to educate others about the history of wooden sailboats on the Island.
The Flying Horses Carousel (1876)
Before: Built by Charles Dare for Coney Island, NY
Now: The nation’s oldest platform carousel and a national landmark
Grange Hall (1859)
Before: The location for the Agricultural Fair
Now: The location for farmers markets, fairs, and antique sales
Hilly’s Garden (1899)
Before: An accurate restoration based on photographic documentation of the “Sunken Garden” installed by Senator Butler
Now: Named in honor of Hillary Luther, an avid Edgartown gardener
John Coffin House (1703)
Before: Originally built for a prosperous mariner, the house was also for many years a tavern and inn
Now: The oldest commercial structure on North Water Street in Edgartown housing a number of retail buisnesses
Nathan Mayhew Schoolhouse (1828)
Before: The Island’s oldest one room schoolhouse
Now: The Morgan Learning Center, a seasonal educational space for the Martha’s Vineyard Museum
The Norton Boathouse (1840)
Before: The waterfront headquarters of Norton sea captains. The Nortons were among the first settlers of Edgartown in the 1640s.
Now: The last sea captain’s and fisherman’s boathouse on the harbor
The Old Sculpin Gallery (1840)
Before: Manuel Swartz Roberts, reffered to as “Old Sculpin” operated his wooden boat shop there for 50 years
Now: The Martha’s Vineyard Art Association continues to operate their non-profit gallery and educational programs in the building
Old West Tisbury Library (1870)
Before: Built by Moses Mitchell as part of the Mitchell Boys School Campus and serviced as the town library for over fifty years
Now: Home to the Island Theatre Workshop
Old Whaling Church (1843)
Before: Designed by Fredrick Baylies, Jr.and built by Edgartown’s prosperous Methodist whaling captains
Now: This building is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in New England. The Methodist congregation continues to use it and it also serves as a venue for Town Meeting, weddings, lectures, concerts and other civic events.
Osborn Wharf (1840)
Before: It was originally a warehouse for goods shipped by the Osborne family, prosperous 19th Century ship owners
Now: it remains in maritime use as the chandlery of Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard making it the oldest commercial structure on the Edgartown waterfront
Peabody Gazebo (1840)
Before: Originally located at the Peabody estate, Glen Magna Farm, in Danvers, Massachusetts
Now: Admired by all Islanders
Slip Away Farm on Chappaquiddick (1790)
Before: A rare surviving example of a New England Half-Cape
Now: The land continues to be used for agricultural production and is home to the Chappy Schoolhouse
Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs (1870)
Before: Built as a non-sectarian place of worship
Now: Union Chapel has long been a favorite venue for concerts, recitals, political meetings, speakers and wedding ceremonies
Village Green (1642)
Before: The center of Edgartown’s original village settlement
Now: A small park connecting four in-town commercial streets
Vincent House Museum (1672)
Before: The Island’s oldest residence
Now: A museum dedicated to life on the Island
Vineyard Gazette Building (1760)
Before: Originally constructed as a residence
Now: The production headquarters of the Island’s oldest newspaper