MV Obsession

My obsession with Martha's Vineyard.. phototography..genealogy and life in general and this and that…


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Trinity Circle, Trinity Park and Bells …

In the town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, in the Methodist Campground are Trinity Circle and Trinity Park.

Sharing Trinity Park for almost 140 years are the Tabernacle (erected in 1879) and Trinity Methodist Church (built in 1878).

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Over the years both have undergone changes. This is just one of the changes for the Tabernacle.

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A major transformation for Trinity Methodist Church

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DSC_0034  A look inside the Tabernacle and Trinity Methodist Church

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Tabernacle from inside Trinity Methodist Church… I love this picture.

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Trinity Park is a perfect place to enjoy some quiet time… to indulge in some contemplation, read, maybe snooze, enjoy a game of catch, or wander around with a camera.

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100_0643According to the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Assn. website:

“The original layout of Wesleyan Grove was a simple formation of a circle enclosing the preaching area and the society or church tents.   In 1859 a road, now known as Trinity Circle, was built which encircled that area.   In 1864, the Association purchased the 26 acres it had been renting.   As the area continued to expand (additional grounds were purchased in 1866), it developed in a radial-concentric pattern which was little used in America at that time.   Paths radiating from Trinity Circle led to smaller circles where large groups of tents had been located – County Park (Wesleyan Grove), Forest Circle, Washington Park (Victorian Park), Cottage Park Avenue (Cottage Park), Crystal Park (Vincent Park), Washington Avenue (Butler Avenue), Rural Circle and Clinton Avenue, which, at one time, had been the main entrance to the Campground.   The smaller circles, some surrounded by larger circles, had small paths radiating from them leading to other circles or parks.   The method of the grounds layout was an additive one of discrete neighborhood units, each built around small various shaped parks.   Some street and park names (current names are in the brackets) have been changed for various reasons over the years”.

 I spent my childhood summers on Martha’s Vineyard and many of those summers I spent my mornings at Bible School in the Tabernacle.  As was the custom a girl and a boy would be chosen each morning to walk from the Tabernacle to Trinity Church and ring the 8 o’clock bell.  I waited almost all summer to hear my name called, I didn’t think it was ever going to happen.  Finally it did and off across the lawn my partner and I scampered.

Inside the vestibule tied to the staircase railing was the thickest rope I’d ever seen.  The rope was attached to the bell way, way, way up in the steeple and the longer we stood there and pondered the situation the higher up the bell seemed to get.

First though we had to untie the rope, it did not go well, we fumbled along and finally the rope was free from the railing.   Time was ticking but neither of us were aware of how close to 8 o’clock we were coming.

Now all we had to do was pull the rope and the bell would ring and … well, that did not go well either.  Neither one of us had enough weight to pull the rope hard enough to ring the bell.  Rope burn was the least of our problems though as now we were sure it was after 8 o’clock and we’d failed our mission.  With what strength we had left we both grabbed the rope, stood on one of the steps and jumped.  Just as our teacher walked in the door to see what the problem was we heard… bong, bong, bong… it was ringing, the bell was peeling loud and strong, we had succeeded…  we had only missed the 8 o’clock bell by… oh 10 or so minutes.  Who would notice!

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  When I got home at lunch time the first thing my mother said was “the 8 o’clock bell was a bit late this morning, do you know who was ringing it this morning?”  I said it had been me…  she shook her head slowly and said nothing but I did notice a little smile.  By the way, I was never asked to ring the bell again.

🙂


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The Vineyard, Feb 1989 …

February 1989 was the first time back to the Vineyard in winter since I was a child.  Following are excerpts from my travel log about that trip and also pictures taken with a non-digital camera… which does have relevance in this post.    So come join me in a trip down a cold, snowy very wintery memory lane.

Picture of the Islander in dry dock from aboard the ferry, Eagle.

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One of my favorite places is the Campground in Oak Bluffs.  I love the gingerbread cottages but most of all I really really love the Tabernacle… every time I’m on the Vineyard I take a few moments…or hour… and sit quietly there and enjoy just being.  Winter was no exception, cold as it was it was warm in my heart.

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100_7831Let’s wander through Oak Bluffs a little …  notice Christmas tree is still in the Bandstand …

My creationwent out to South Beach where there were lots of Christmas trees people had brought after the holidays…    also drove out to Menemsha just to take a look around…

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excerpt from travel journal :  ‘it was cold on the cliffs. 26 degrees maybe…but off I went to see them anyway.  Down the road I traipsed over the dunes and onto the beach… what a sight.  Thousands of rocks all shapes and sizes, and there in the distance… the cliffs… I was very excited.  Took some shots and scurried back to the warm car.  Noticed camera had opened a bit, closed it and didn’t think much about it.  After lunch in Edgartown I rode out the ‘bend in the road beach’ to take some pictures and noticed that the picture counter on the camera said #1 !!!!  When I had gotten in the car in the morning it had said #16 !!!  Something was wrong.   I turned around and headed for the camera shop.  Everything seems to be okay with the camera but maybe it got too cold and lost its memory and reverted to #1… or perhaps when the camera opened just that little bit it caused it to revert !!  At any rate I’m having what was in the camera developed.’

The following day I picked up my photos and not only were they all fine, there was this one…. actually, these two…

shot of the cliffs taken before camera opened …

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shot after I closed the camera …  I’ve always kind of liked it… can’t do this with a digital camera …

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After a long first day headed back to Edgartown for the night but not before stopping at Sengekontacket Pond for the sunset…

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around and about Edgartown …

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There was eating and relaxing but I also had a shopping mission !  My daughter Patty and her husband Mike were expecting their first baby and I, as soon to be grammy was determined to find an MV shirt for baby.  I had already promised myself, and future grandchild that I would keep her/him in Vineyard t-shirts forever 🙂  (They found out the following month that the baby was a little girl).

Not too many shops open that carried baby things… not too many souvenir shirts available either. Here it was only 3 months before baby would arrive and this was my only chance to bring back a shirt from the Vineyard.    On an off chance I walked into a store in Edgartown, I don’t even remember what they sold but tucked way off in a corner were… little people t-shirts.  I wondered just how little those sizes would be.

I hit pay dirt… there was one baby t-shirt and I grabbed it.  Ah, success and also the start of a still ongoing tradition.

Granddaughter Tiffany was the first to wear the shirt.. after her came grandson Tyler… when he outgrew it my daughter asked what she should do with it and I said I’d take it.   Here it is today being modeled by my doll Molly.

My creationThere certainly wasn’t as much snow that February as the Vineyard has gotten this year but I got to enjoy a powdery dusting of it.


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Thomas Edison, Final Installment …

After leaving the library (last stop in installment #2) we headed upstairs to the precision machinery floor..

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Behind this wall below, in 1888, in a small room long since dismantled, Thomas Edison and W. K. L. Dickson created the first motion picture camera.

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I think the electric light is probably the thing Thomas Edison is most famous for .  Although he did not invent the first electric light, Edison made the first practical electric light bulb that could be manufactured and used in the home. He also invented other items that were needed to make the light bulb practical for use in homes including safety fuses and off/off switches for light sockets.

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Our last stop was downstairs to the heavy machinery floor.

I myself have no idea what this sign means but that doesn’t mean you all don’t 🙂

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I can’t imagine the noise level when all these machines were in use at the same time.

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 I really enjoyed learning about this incredible man.

(Thomas Edison National Historic Park)


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Thomas Edison Nat’l Historic Park …

Headed out this past weekend to go here…

Thomas Edison Nat’l Historic Park

in West Orange, New Jersey

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to see Thomas Edison’s home, Glenmont, all decked out for Christmas.

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But it was sold out so my daughter Deb, her friend Dawn, and I decided instead to tour through  the laboratories. I don’t know why I haven’t visited this treasure before… but I’m glad I finally did.

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Got our tickets and off we went…

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All the building center around The Courtyard which was used for many purposes from motion picture set, test site, photography backdrop, greeting area and sometime parking lot.

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Off to one side of the Courtyard stands a replica of the ‘Black Maria’… the world’s first motion picture studio.

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Notice the track that runs around the building.   That was so the building could be turned to follow the sunlight.
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This was only the beginning of our afternoon of awe and delight… let’s see  what’s behind some of the doors !

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In 1887 this was one of the best equipped chemical labs in the world.

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Another door…. the music room…

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The pattern shop …

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Join me for the next installment when we climb these stairs and see what wonders await !

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See ya 🙂


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The Former Daggett House …

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I stayed a few times at the Daggett House Inn before it was renovated and turned into a private residence. One of the things I remember most is their famous Grape Nut bread/toast.

On the lower level of the inn was the breakfast room. According to the Guide to Martha’s Vineyard:

“The room was the first tavern on Martha’s Vineyard to sell beer and ale. In 1660 the taverner, John Daggett, was fined five shillings for “selling strong liquor.” In 1750 the Daggett House was added to the building. Through the years the Daggett House was a custom’s house, a sailor’s boardinghouse, a store, and during the whaling era, a counting house. ”

An interesting feature of the Daggett House was its secret room. I’m not sure what it was used for in the 1600′s or so but during the past years as a B&B it was a guest room, provided they could find the secret door and providing the GHOST wasn’t in residence!!!

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The back of the Daggett House had a nice expanse leading to the edge of Edgartown Harbor. A perfect place to have a breakfast or sit and read.

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I stayed at the Daggett House twice… once in the main house and once in the charming 2 room house in the garden.

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Grapenut Bread from the Daggett House.

(This recipe was a staple of the Daggett House Bed & Breakfast on Martha’s Vineyard until it closed. They used to readily hand out recipe cards so I’m assuming there are no copyright issues. But just in case there is, I’m giving full credit here to the inn as it’s their recipe)

Makes 2 loaves

Mix:

2/3 c Grapenuts

1/3 c wheat germ

3 T butter

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 c dark brown sugar

1 1/3 c boiling water.

Stir and let cool to barely warm.

Then, combine 1 T yeast, 1 tsp sugar and 2/3 c warm water, and let stand until bubbly.

Add yeast to the dry mixture. Add 4 c all-purpose flour.

Knead until soft and smooth, then return to bowl and let rise, covered, until double in volume.

Punch down and divide into two loaves, knead for a few minutes, and put into greased loaf pans. Let rise until double in size.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Freshly baked Grape-Nut bread…yum

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(In all fairness I have to give credit to my daughter Deb who baked this delicious bread).


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A Vineyard School House …

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My mother’s step-cousin was born in this house in Indian Hill in 1911. He lived in this house, built in 1752, until he died. He was quite a guy. He was a master at building things and he could fix absolutely anything. Over the years he added on to the family homestead, and when there wasn’t anymore he could do there he turned his sights to –

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— the one room school house up the road where he’d gone to school. He purchased the school house and set about renovating it.

When his daughter got married she and her husband moved into it. I had the pleasure of going there for dinner and I was in awe. The original wooden floors had been beautifully restored, but more than that, you could see clearly the marks where the desks had once been. A couple of the desks had been salvaged and were part of the living room. The closet was, of course the former cloak room with, the original coat hooks. And to top things off the school bell was once again working. I hardly ever enjoyed being in a classroom quite as much as I did that night at dinner many years ago.


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Movie Magic …

Recent articles in Vineyard papers about the possible permanent closing of these three movie theatres has made me think of my movie memories on the Vineyard.

Movies have been a big part of Island entertainment since the early 1900′s.

The Island Theatre (Eagle Theatre) circa 1910.

In 1927 the Island Theatre in Oak Bluffs was showing the talkie ‘Wings’ starring the ‘It girl’, Clara Bow.  The price of admission was 50 cents on a Saturday night, 30 cents if you sat in the balcony.

At one time there were as many as 8 theatres down-Island… of those only the Island, The Strand and The Capawock remain.

The Island Theatre – Oak Bluffs

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The Strand (2009) – Oak Bluffs

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The Capawock (1996) – Vineyard Haven

For me, as a summer kid on the Vineyard in the 1950′s, a night at the movies was a very big deal. The movies I remember the clearest are the musicals, like “Summer Stock” with Judy Garland, and “Showboat” with Howard Keel.

But before even getting to the theatre there was a stop at …

…Darling’s on Circuit Ave for popcorn. A bag would be fine for an afternoon treat but for going to the movies the choice was always a popcorn bar in such flavors as chocolate, strawberry,vanilla, caramel, and butterscotch.

After the ‘show’ a stop at the Frosty Cottage on Circuit Ave for a pistachio ice cream cone finished off the evening.

Many nights on the way home I morphed into a singing, dancing movie star…at least in my head 🙂

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Memory Correction …

Few years ago I put up this post:

I was in New York City and visited Grand Central Station, mostly to take photos of this magnificently restored building.  I thought I had never been there before…but in looking around something clicked in my brain !

When my mother and I would go to MV every summer we would take a train from Pennsylvania Station in Newark, NJ to, as it turns out, Grand Central Station in NYC where we would change trains.

We would have to run from one end of the station to the other to board the New York/New Haven & Hartford’s train on the Old Colony line called the Day Cape Codder, which would take us all the way from New York City to Woods Hole, MA. That’s right, all the way to Woods Hole.

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100_8757The train stopped at what is now the staging area for cars waiting to get onto the ferries. The tracks ran under the overpass in the left corner of this photograph.  It was literally only steps from train to boat.  A comfortable and luxurious way to travel in the days when lots of people didn’t have cars and the road system left a lot to be desired anyway.  The trains had dining cars with each table dressed in fancy tablecloths and crisply ironed napkins.  The waiters and conductors were always the same and seemed to remember me from year to year… made me feel special and grown up. Train service to Woods Hole ended in the 1960′s.

The ferry, the Nobska/Nantucket would take us to MV.

We’d land here in Oak Bluffs and our relatives would be there to greet us, and three glorious months on the Vineyard would begin.

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Well it turns out I was wrong !!!!  I don’t like  being wrong, even worse I don’t like admitting it… but I have to set the record straight because I know at least one person who did these trips as well and he’ll spot the mistake.

Recently I was watching the PBS program The American Experience about the ‘The Rise and Fall of Penn Station’    and I realized it wasn’t Grand Central Station we had taken the train to Woods Hole from…. it was Penn Station !!

Pennsylvania Station was built in 1910, covered nearly 8 acres, extended 2 city blocks and was one of the largest public spaces in the world.  Its 3 year demolition began in October 1963.  It was replace with another Penn Station which Madison Sq Garden sits atop.

  Functional but not beautiful 🙂

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The person I mentioned above is my life long friend Will Jones.  His parents Bill and Bertha owned the bowling alley in Oak Bluffs which was across from the Flying Horses.

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You might enjoy reading about our moms who grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and our dads who grew up in Newark, NJ …

 My friend Will Jones and I were always looking for things to keep us busy and out of trouble during our summers on MV.  Someone showed me how to make little flowers by using yarn and forks… I immediately showed Will.   We set about our tasks, me at my house, he at his.

The next morning Will’s mom called my mom asking if he was at my house ?  Seems she went looking for a fork and couldn’t find any !!!  A few moment later Will was at my door, and yes, he had all his mother’s forks with him and they were filled with yarn.  Seems I had neglected to show him how to get the yarn off the forks to make the little flowers…

                  

 Will had carried those forks from his house way on the other side of Oak Bluffs …

  up Circuit Ave …

 … to my house where we freed his mother’s forks of their yarn.  I have no recollection of what we did with the yarn flowers.
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(Will’s mom – my mom)

Our moms were childhood friends, as were Will and I.  Our moms graduated from Oak Bluffs High School together (long before the regional high school was built).  Our moms moved to Newark, NJ after graduation and it was there that they met their future husbands, our dads, who were also childhood friends.   (In 1907 Will’s mom, Bertha Carter, was the first girl baby born in Oak Bluffs after its name change from Cottage City.)

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(my dad – Will’s dad)

Will and I spent every day of the summer together. We went swimming, rode the Flying Horses, read, drove our parents crazy and were inseparable. For many years his parents owned a bowling alley in Oak Bluffs across from the Flying Horses.  Long before automation the pins had to be set by hand, I even did it from time to time myself.

Being a summer kid on the Vineyard was the best thing in the world… it still is.

Will and I live near each other in NJ and when we see each other we do a lot of talking about the Vineyard.

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Ahh, memories… whether they’re right or wrong I’m not telling 🙂


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The House Story Updated …

This is the house of my godparents, the house of my childhood summers, the house that holds a special place in my heart.

The house I wrote this short story about (CLICK HERE) and this post where I’d been inside the house in the 1980’s after 40+ years and what I found there… (CLICK HERE).

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This is the house that I drive past each and every time I’m on the Vineyard.  This is the house that looked sad and showed its age… the house that needed people to see its potential and give it the TLC it deserved for so long.

Then one day I got an email….  it was titled something like ‘we bought your house’!!  They had had their eye on the house for awhile and when it went on the market they bought it.  The house couldn’t have been luckier.  This couple and their family obviously love this house and have already made it more beautiful than its ever been… and they’re not even done yet.  I firmly believe that certain houses have a ‘soul’… maybe it’s my deep connection to this house but when I saw it recently it looked happy and even better there was a feeling of warmth and contentment when you walked inside.

Look at the house now …take a close look at the detail work and how they’ve made it stand out.

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I recently met the new owners and had the pleasure of going into the house and stepping back into time…    this is some of what I saw…

When I walked into the living room the first thing I recognized  was the mirror over the fireplace…  it had previously been in the dining room over the sideboard.  The sideboard, dining room table and china cabinet are all original to the house and they are still beautiful.

This house was built around 1907 – 1911…  we think my godparent’s were the original owners but one thing’s for sure… a lot of the furniture is original…like for instance…

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… the iron beds and some of the side tables.

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But the one that I really got emotional about was in this room pictured below…  the only twin bed in the house… MY BED… the bed where I spent every summer of my childhood.

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To get to my room in those days I had to climb the steep stairs which led to a long, long hall … at least it seemed like a long hall then …

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however, on the nights I listened to ‘The Shadow’ on the radio with my godfather the hall seemed like this.

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Me and the house, 1950 and 2013… not much difference in my height 🙂

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Thank you my new friends for letting me revisit the past, to share with you what little I know about the history of the house, and thank you to you and your family for giving back to this house the heart it had been missing for so long.

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The Gay Head Lighthouse …

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The Gay Head Lighthouse has stood on the picturesque cliffs at the western most tip of Martha’s Vineyard since 1856.  It is now only 45 feet from the edge of the  eroding cliffs and is in danger of falling into the sea.

In 1799 a wooden lighthouse was built. In 1856 it was replaced with the current brick and sandstone lighthouse and fitted with Fresnel lenses.

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The lenses were replaced by electrically generated lenses in 1952. The old lenses were given to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Edgartown.

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This past weekend (Oct 13) I was on MV and decided to drive out to Aquinnah…  and when I got there I saw these signs…

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I’d never been inside the Gay Head lighthouse and was excited to be able to do so, and also help in a small way support the campaign to help raise the money to Save The Gay Head Lighthouse.

Come and join me for my tour inside the lighthouse…

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Reached the first level and stepped outside…

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These are the stunningly beautiful breathtaking views …

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Final set of stairs and the view from the top …

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What an awesome experience…

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***To learn more about how to donate to Save The Gay Head Lighthouse CLICK HERE

**To read the history of the Gay Head Lighthouse CLICK HERE