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  • VAF-NE Field Trip ~ Martha's Vineyard MA ~ April 7 & 8, 2018

VAF-NE Field Trip ~ Martha's Vineyard MA ~ April 7 & 8, 2018

  • 07 Apr 2018
  • 08 Apr 2018
  • Martha's Vineyard, MA

VAF-New England Field Trip - Martha's Vineyard

Edgartown, Vineyard Haven, Chilmark, and Oak Bluffs

Saturday, April 7 to Sunday, April 8, 2018

Please join Myron Stachiw for a two-day tour of Martha’s Vineyard in spring. This tour will include in-depth examinations of two well-studied 18thcentury cape-style houses, a visit to ChristianTown, home to the burial grounds and chapel of Christianized Native Americans in the 17th century, and a morning in Wesleyan Grove, the renowned Methodist camp meeting community. Additional sites on the agenda include the Quansoo Farm in Chilmark and either the Marine Hospital in Vineyard Haven or the lighthouse at Gay Head.

The Agenda

April 7, 2018

8:45   Arrive at Woods Hole Ferry Terminal in advance of taking the 9:30 ferry to Vineyard Haven. (Leave your cars in Woods Hole. For information about the ferry service and parking please visit the Steamship Authority website https://www.steamshipauthority.com/)

10:15 Arrive in Vineyard Haven, take van to Clarion Inn in Edgartown and check in.

11:00 Vincent House, 99 Main Street, Edgartown This relocated cape of disputed vintage is the key to understanding how colonial-era buildings on Martha’s Vineyard have been traditionally dated. The building is owned by Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust and is a short walk from the Clarion Inn. Admission $10.00. See full description of property on page 3.

12:45 Lunch in Edgartown (on your own)

1:45 Hancock-Mitchell House, Chilmark.  A van will transport us across island to Chilmark where Myron Stachiw will continue the tour at the, mid-18th century Hancock-Mitchell House that was recently the subject of an in-depth Historic Structure Report. See full description of property on page 4.

Quansoo Farm, Chilmark. The Hancock -Mitchell House is located on the Quansoo Farm, owned by the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. The farm contains 146 acres of meadow, field and forest and stretches from the shores of Black Point Pond to the south and Tisbury Great Pond to the east. We will build in time to explore the perimeter loop trail that wends through meadows, fields and forests and to view the wind knotted oak trees distinctive to this area of the island.

4:00 Christian Town Burial Ground and Mayhew Chapel (1829), Vineyard Haven.  The van will next transport the group what remains of a tract of land deeded to a small group of Christianized Native Americans in 1659 and upon which remains the burying ground and a small chapel.See full description of property on page 5.

5:00 Return to the Clarion Inn, Edgartown

April 8, 2018

9:30 Wesleyan Grove, Oak Bluffs. Owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association. In 1835 Wesleyan Grove was the first summer camp meeting grounds established in the United States and remains one of the best-preserved examples of these 19th century Methodist Revival-meeting sites. The spacing of the tightly-spaced wood frame cottages with Victorian era trim reflects the former location of tents and tent platforms used by the first attendees. Most of the current buildings date to the 1860s and 1870s. See full description of property on page 6.

11:30 Lunch in Oak Bluffs

12:30 Van returns to retrieve luggage at the Clarion Inn, then travel to Vineyard Haven.

1:15 Ferry to Woods Hole -or-

2:30 Marine Hospital, Vineyard Haven, or TBD.  The 30 room, wood-framed Marine Hospital was built on a bluff overlooking the vineyard Haven waterfront in 1895, and treated military patients until after World War II. Beginning in the 1950s it had a second life as a summer camp, but is now being renovated to house the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. 

2:30 Ferry to Woods Hole

3:45 Ferry to Woods Hole 

The Details

Space on this tour is initially limited to 14 people, including Myron Stachiw.This number could be increased but would potentially increase the per person cost of transportation.

Transportation on island: $35 per person (based on 14 people) – payable in advance

Ferry to/from island: $17.00

Admission to the Vincent House $10.00 payable at site


A 10-room block has been reserved at the Clarion Inn in Edgartown. Rooms have two double beds. Cost is $116.54 plus tax. The rooms must be reserved by February 7th or they will bereleased. Each participant is responsible for making his or her own hotel reservations. When making the reservation reference the group name “VAF-NE”.

Clarion Inn Martha’s Vineyard

227 Upper Main Street, Edgartown, MA 02539

Phone: (508) 627-5161 Fax: (508) 627-3444

Additional accommodations may be available on the island, including AirBnB, but for the sake of convenience please try to book rooms at establishments in Edgartown.

Please RSVP to Christi Mitchell at coldarsefarmer@gmail.com by February 6th. Reservations will be accepted by e-mail, but a check for $35 (transportation fee) will be needed to confirm a spot. Checks should be made out to VAF-NE and mailed to Christi A. Mitchell, 556 East River Road, Whitefield, ME 04353.

The Properties

Vincent House, Edgartown

The Vincent House is presently located in Edgartown on the grounds of the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust. A Cape-style house with a small rear ell, the building was moved to its present site and restored for use as a historic house museum in the late 1970s from its original location between Kanomika and Mashacket Necks on the north shore of Edgartown Great Pond, on land owned by the Vincent family from the 1650s to 1940. 

The house was originally constructed as a full cape, with center chimney and two rooms deep. Archaeological investigations prior to relocation of the house (led by Myron Stachiw) discovered diamond-paned glass and lead cames, indicating that the original windows consisted of leaded casement windows rather than wooden sash windows; the latter were installed sometime in the 18th century. The frame of this house was exposed and chamfered; many framing members were pit sawn; the frame and original unplastered ceilings were whitewashed; and the walls were filled with wattle-and-daub filling. Based on these features and incomplete research, previous researchers had concluded the house was constructed in the mid to late 17th century when the Vinson or Vincent family settled along Edgartown Great Pond. Archaeological excavations revealed no material culture present on the site dating to earlier than the 1720s, a date supported by the full Cape, double-pile form. However, during the dismantling of the c.1800 chimney a brick was found in the rubble fill between fireboxes which had scratched into its surface the number “1672”, and this number was rather arbitrarily taken as the date of the building’s construction (and is stillpresented as such), despite the results of the archaeological investigation. 

The interpretation of this building as erected in 1672 has had a great impact on the subsequent investigation and interpretation of early buildings on Martha’s Vineyard. Any building that contains any of the features found in the Vincent House is automatically identified as a 17th century house.

The tour of the Vincent House will be led by Myron Stachiw, who will indicate and explain the important similarities (and some differences) between the Vincent House and the Hancock-Mitchell House.

Hancock-Mitchell House, Chilmark

The Hancock-Mitchell House is a mid-18th century Cape-style structure situated on Quansoo Neck in Chilmark on a 146 acre parcel of meadow, field, and forest owned by the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, Inc. (SMF), the largest land trust on Martha’s Vineyard in terms of acreage ownedand managed. SMF obtained ownership of the house and land between 1981 and 2005. In 2013 they commenced a major project to preserve and restore the structure, which never was wired for electricity, plumbed for running water or toilets, or had central heating installed. 

Previous researchers identified a portion of the house as dating to the 3rd quarter of the 17th century. Some features of the structure, like the exposed chamfered framing, pit sawn framing members, and wattle-and-daub wall filling supported the first period date of the structure postulated by previous researchers. In the course of extensive and intensive documentary and physical research (architectural and archaeological) on the building and property during work on an historic structures report, it became clear that the house was not what it was thought to be. Severalrounds of dendrochronology, supplemented by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry C14 dating, indicated that the oldest portion of the building - not a single-cell structure, but a double pile half-house - was constructed c.1760 on another site and moved to its present location c.1793. The building was expanded to full-cape form c.1801 and the present rear ell replaced an earlier ell c.1837. The continued use of certain building practices and decorative features in this house into the mid-18th century, abandoned a generation or two earlier in much of New England, makes this a significant structure that raises many questions about the nature of island culture and vernacular traditions, and has the potential to completely alter the present understanding of the early architectural and social history of the island.

The tour will be led by Myron Stachiw, who carried out the documentary and physical research for the historic structure report. As the building is not finished yet on the interior, much of the evidence for its earlier form and finishes remains visible.

Christian Town Burial Ground and Mayhew Chapel (1829), Vineyard Haven

In 1659/60 Wampanoag sachem Josias granted a one mile square tract along the north shore of the island to a small group of Christianized or praying Indians to establish a praying town. This grant was reinforced in 1670 by Thomas Mayhew, who established English settlement and ruled the island as a manor lord during his lifetime (d. 1682), following encroachments by English settlers on the land granted by Josias for the praying town. Mayhew oversaw the creation of a town government in Christian Town comprised on native and English trustees, which remained in effect until 1739 when they Indian residents were given full town status and allowed to choose their own town officers. Nevertheless, encroachment by English settlers continued through the first half of the 18th century, with the land held by the Indians shrinking to only several hundred acres, and the population dwindling from more than 80 residents in 1698 to 54 in 1762. In 1760 Governor Bernard of Massachusetts Bay intervened in the Indians favor, declaring all purchases of land by white men within the bounds of Christian Town made after 1709 were to be void and the land returned, but this received scant attention and enforcement. Only 160 acres of the purchased lands were returned and only 390 acres of the remaining common land were divided among the descendants of the Praying Indians.  

A meeting house was built in Christian Town by 1680 where several generations of Mayhews and native preachers served the Christian Indian community. The present meeting house was erected in 1829, presumably on or near the site of the earlier buildings. The cemetery, containing several hundred stone markers, is located on the slopes of the hills rising from the meeting house and surrounding it like an amphitheater. Few of the stones are carved with names and dates.

Wesleyan Grove, Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard. Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association

Wesleyan grove is currently a 34-acre National Historic Landmark District. It was the first Methodist summer religious camp established in the US. The earliest camp meeting in what became known as Wesleyan Grove occurred in 1835, and grew in popularity over the next several decades. Initially congregations from churches on the mainland maintained their own society tents which housed congregation members dormitory-style. Next families began leasing small lots on which they pitched tents to house their family members. In the 1860s and 70s the tents were replaced with permanent wooden cottages, reaching more than 500 in number; only 318 remain at present.

The present Tabernacle was built 1879, replacing large tents that were used to protect up to 4000 attendees.

Field trips are a benefit of your VAF membership!

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