The Cottagers, Inc. of Martha’s Vineyard kicked off a capital campaign last week to restore Cottagers’ Corner in Oak Bluffs with a Sundown Soiree at Featherstone Center for the Arts.

“This is the first kind of this event we’ve ever done,” said Kharma Finley-Wallace, chair of Cottagers, Inc. and organizer of the event. “And I believe we’ve raised the most we’ve ever raised in Cottagers’ history.”

The soiree was organized to raise money for the renovation and restoration of Cottagers’ Corner, the 152-year-old building in Oak Bluffs that has housed the organization since 1968.

“We know that Cottager’s Corner is an iconic building,” said Donna Johnson, chair of the capital campaign to restore the building. “It represents all that is the best of African Americans on this Island.”

Donna Johnson, chair of the capital campaign committee. — Ray Ewing

The Cottagers have been a force on the Island since 1956, and the organization’s mission is rooted in making the Island a better place, said Olivia Baxter, president of Cottagers, Inc. The organization raises money to support education, charity and community service projects on the Island and is made up of about 100 African American female homeowners.

The organization first met in member’s homes. As its membership grew, it looked for a permanent space, leading to the purchase of the former Oak Bluffs Fire Station at 57 Pequot avenue, Ms. Johnson said. It quickly became a community center, meeting space and an activity hub for all ages where parents knew their kids would be safe.

“It was a place where we could connect with each other and with the community at large,” Ms. Johnson said. “We want to make sure that this building remains.”

Featured in an Oak Bluffs exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and a stop on the Martha’s Vineyard African American Heritage Trail, Cottagers’ Corner is undeniably part of the Island’s and the country’s history, Ms. Johnson added.

At the event, members wore purple corsages on their hats and dresses. They received a round of applause led by Ms. Baxter when she thanked them for making the organization and Cottagers’ Corner what it is today.

The 152-year-old building in Oak Bluffs that has housed the organization since 1968. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“Without them, we would not be able to support so many charities on this Island,” Ms. Baxter said to the crowd. “We may come here for fun, but we work all summer long. It’s our promise that we make — we give back to the community.”

Jane C. Edmonds is not a member yet but said she has been a long-time supporter and believes in the organization’s mission.

“I support any organization that is about working towards creating a community where we can all flourish,” she said. “I think I’m ready to think about what I can contribute. I’m making friends and already feel so welcomed.”

Ms. Edmonds said she made a new friend as she sat with Brenda Davenport, who called herself a “lifelong Cottager.” The event left Ms. Davenport almost speechless.

“I can’t get over it, I just can’t,” she said. “It just feels so good to have this togetherness. To watch it grow into something like this is just wonderful.”

Ms. Finley-Wallace said she is a second-generation Cottager — her grandmother was a founding member. She said she felt proud to be a part of carrying on the organization’s legacy as a member and in the planning of the Sundown Soiree.

“This has been absolutely amazing and overwhelming, really,” Ms. Finley-Wallace said. “It really shows the power of support from our community, from our supporters and from our members.”

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