Community Celebration to Mark the Re-Lighting on Tuesday, Aug. 11
July 29, 2015 – Members of the Save the Gay Head Light House Committee announced today that there will be a celebration of the re-lighting of the 160 -year-old light house in the Aquinnah Circle on Tuesday, Aug. 11. The re-lighting will end the longest period of darkness in the history of the iconic beacon and is the culmination of an island-wide effort to save it in a successful campaign that spanned several years.
The celebration will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will include refreshments provided by local food vendors and live music performances from island musicians including The Black Brook Singers, Good Night Louise and Isaac Taylor, singing “Red Queen,” an original homage to the Light. Bring a blanket and a picnic if you like.
The light house has been dark since April 16 when it was turned off in preparation for its move, 130 feet from the edge of the Gay Head Cliffs. The move was completed on May 30, 2015 after committee members successfully raised more than $3 million to fund the effort. Fund raising is continuing to address unanticipated environmental expenses.
Be in the Aquinnah Circle by 5:30 pm to see the moment the beacon is relit. Island residents and guests are invited to enjoy the celebration until 8 p.m., Aquinnah time. Free parking will be available in the Beach Parking Lot and the western end of the Circle.
The Gay Head Lighthouse, a Martha’s Vineyard treasure and one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places of 2013, was 46 feet (Aug 2013) from an eroding cliff, and geological experts recommended it should be moved before the area around became too unstable to safely do so. The Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee worked to save this iconic structure and its working navigational beacon, which has stood at the picturesque cliffs of the westernmost tip of the island since 1799 and was replaced with the current brick lighthouse in 1854. The committee’s objective was to move and restore the Gay Head Lighthouse to a location that will sustain it for many generations. The fundraising goal to cover these costs is $3.4 million. The move was successfully completed in June. For more information or to make a donation, visit http://gayheadlight.org/.
The relocation project to save the Gay Head Lighthouse is moving ahead very quickly now that excavation is well underway.
Saturday, April 11 is Final Chance to Visit Lighthouse in Its Current Location
Islanders will have a final opportunity to visit the Gay Head Lighthouse in its current location on Saturday, April 11 when lighthouse keepers Richard Skidmore and Joan LeLacheur will open the building from 2 to 5 p.m. Admission will be free.
The Gay Head Light open house will be the culmination of a week of activity to prepare for the actual relocation of the island icon in late May. The U.S. Coast Guard will be erecting a temporary beacon on the Gay Head Cliffs overlook on Tuesday, April 7. The metal pole will have an LED light on top that will be illuminated and start flashing during the week of April 13, after the sweeping beacon of the lighthouse goes dark. Officials estimate the temporary beacon will be in use until the end of June.
The Gay Head Lighthouse, a Martha’s Vineyard treasure and one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places of 2013, currently sits 46 feet (Aug 2013) from an eroding cliff, and geological experts recommend it should be moved before the area around it is not stable enough to safely do so. The Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee is working to save this iconic structure and its working navigational beacon, which has stood at the picturesque cliffs of the westernmost tip of the island since 1799 and was replaced with the current brick lighthouse in 1854. The committee’s objective is to move and restore the Gay Head Lighthouse to a location that will sustain it for many generations. The fundraising goal to cover these costs is $3 million. For more information or to make a donation, visit http://gayheadlight.org/.
Visit the lighthouse between now and the week of April 13, when the old beacon will go dark before the move. Use the form below to send us your photos!
A key component of saving Gay Head Light came signed, sealed and delivered 10 days ago to Aquinnah officials from the federal government.
Those papers, received by the Martha’s Vineyard town from the U.S. Department of the Interior on Feb. 20, turned over official ownership of the venerable and vulnerable lighthouse, which teeters a mere 46 feet from the eroding cliffs of Gay Head.
“It was a historic day for the town and the island,” said Len Butler, chairman of the Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee’s relocation subcommittee.
According to a press release issued by the town and committee, a memorandum of understanding between the town, Government Services Administration, National Park Service, Massachusetts Historic Commission, U.S. Coast Guard, Advisor Council on Historic Preservation and Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) outlines the future management, maintenance and care of the structure.
The town of Aquinnah announces that it is now the owner of the historic Gay Head Lighthouse. Almost one year to the day from when the Town submitted it’s application for ownership to the National Park Service, it has received word that all parties have signed off on an agreement clearing the way for the transference. On Friday 2/20/15, the Town received a fully executed deed to the structure and property from the General Services Administration.
After recommendations for this transfer from the Director of the NPS and the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, a Memorandum of Agreement between the Town .the GSA, the NPS, the Mass. Historic Commission, the USCG, the ACHP (Advisor Council on Historic Preservation) and the Wampanoag Tribe was constructed and approved by all parties. This is required by the terms of the NHLPA (National Historic Lighthouse Protection Act) for the transference and continued treatment of historic lighthouses. This agreement covers the terms and conditions of the transfer and the plans for future management, maintenance and care for the structure in perpetuity.
This transaction clears the way for the planned relocation of the Gay Head Light away from the eroding Gay Head Cliffs. The lighthouse is currently a mere 46 ‘ from the crumbling bluff 100’ above the Atlantic Ocean. The pre move activities are scheduled to begin as soon as weather conditions permit this spring. The move to a location 200’ inland from the cliff is scheduled for May.
The town appreciates the efforts of all parties involved in this effort enabling this project to commence. Having completed the complex procedures involved from application to ownership in one year has to be a record time for such transfers. This speaks to the awareness of all the Federal, State and local authorities of the urgency of this move to beat Mother Nature’s ticking clock.
This is a great and historic day for the Town of Aquinnah, the Wampanoag Tribe, the Island of Martha’s Vineyard and especially for the the iconic Gay Head Light.
As it is now assured to keep on shining for generations to come.
The race against time to save the Gay Head Lighthouse is now the focus of a mini-documentary.
“The Light at the Edge of the Cliff” is a short documentary written, narrated and produced by Rebecca Taylor, a former television reporter who now serves as director of the broadcast journalism program at Siena College outside Albany, New York.
“I thought it was an important story to tell, about preserving a part of the past for future generations before it’s too late,” explains Taylor, who shot the short doc during visits to the island this summer.
Captivated by the island’s profound connection to the Gay Head Lighthouse, Taylor sought to chronicle the historical significance of the landmark. The documentary features archival photos courtesy of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.
“The photographs really illustrated what a staple this landmark has been throughout the island’s history,” said Taylor, who expressed sincere gratitude to library assistant Bow Van Riper for his cooperation in obtaining archival materials.
Taylor plans to submit the project to various academic conferences and festivals. She is also exploring funding opportunities to return to the island this spring to create an extended version of the project featuring additional interviews.
Contact Rebecca Taylor at email@example.com.
The Save The Gay Head Lighthouse Committee would like to thank everyone who helped to make the second annual Gay Head 10K, a Race Against Time, the resounding success that it was.
The race would not have been possible without our generous and supportive sponsors: Cronig’s Market, WBUR, Artforms, Rotary Club of Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, Flanders Up-Island Real Estate, Hinckley Lumber, Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, Santander, South Mountain Company, Thunderbird, Wynn and Wynn, Beetlebung Tree Care, Cape Air, CB Stark Jewelers, Heartbreak Hill Running Company, Martha’s Vineyard Insurance, Coca Cola of Martha’s Vineyard, DaRosa’s MV Printing Company, Island Source, Martha’s Vineyard Sightseeing, Orange Peel Bakery, Stop & Shop, Tilton Tent Rental, the Tisbury Farm Market, and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).
Volunteers came from every island town and included: the Aquinnah Police and Fire Departments, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), police officers from Chilmark, West Tisbury, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, Tri-Town Ambulance, MVRHS Cross Country Team, and anyone else we may have inadvertently missed.
Joe and Marylee Schroeder added a wealth of information and help up to and during the race. And the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce also rallied for our cause.
We would also like to extend special thanks to the Aquinnah Police Department, especially Chief Randhi Belain, and Jay Smalley, Frank Perez and their crew. Thanks also to Paula and David Eisenberg for donating & manning the pace car. And a very appreciative thank you to Marshall and Joseph Lee for putting in the time and effort to measure the course for certification by USA Track and Field.
And, of course, many thanks to all the runners, for without your participation this could never have happened.
Gay Head 10K Road Race Chairman
Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee Chairman
Watch our new 10K video! Click here.
Under sunny skies and facing a stiff autumn wind, 146 runners followed the scenic State Road/Moshup Trail course for 6.2 miles on Sunday, starting and ending at Aquinnah Circle in the lee of the Gay Head Lighthouse. Overall winner was Jamie Smadbeck, 27, of Edgartown and Worcester, with a time of 40:18:00. The female leader was 24-year-old Lianne Swanson of Somerville, MA, who came in at 42:08:00. Click here for overall results and here for age group results.
According to Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee chairman and Gay Head 10K organizer Beverly Wright, the race will return next year. Co-director Martha Vanderhoop said, “It was a fantastic day for the lighthouse and we could not have pulled it all together without everyone’s hard work and time. The plan is to move the lighthouse to its new, safer location in the spring of 2015. The proceeds from this event help us climb further toward our fundraising goal. We hope all the runners will join us again next year and for many years to come.”
“We’ll keep holding the race as a community event and also to keep raising money to maintain this historic structure,” said Ms. Wright.
Volunteer Betsy Blake, visiting from Wellington, FL, marveled at the community spirit she saw on race day. “Everybody is just so kind and happy to be here, and they made me feel at home. I hope I can run the race next year and also see the lighthouse in its new location.”
See MV Gazette and MV Times articles