Renaissance House in Oak Bluffs will once again nurture the writer within as they host a series of writers’ salons this fall on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.

Tonight, Sept. 17, features Tom Dresser author of Women of Martha’s Vineyard, among other local historical books. Priscilla Douglas, a life coach and author of Getting There and Staying There, brings her skills to the salon on Oct. 1.

The programs are free and open to all.

Renaissance House is located at 31 Pennacook avenue in Oak Bluffs. Call 917-747-0367 or visit renaissance-house-harlem.com.

On July 4th a group of writers and artists gathered on the beach at the Little Bridge in Oak Bluffs. They were not there to sunbathe or go swimming. Instead, they took turns raising their voices in the wind and reading from a speech first given by Frederick Douglass in 1852 in Rochester, N.Y.

On the day that celebrates the birth of independence and political freedom for this nation, Mr. Douglass’s speech, The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro, reminded those in attendance that the nation’s freedom was not a universal experience.


Renaissance House, a retreat for artists and writers in Oak Bluffs, is accepting applications for its 11th year of operation.

Renaissance House is sponsored by the Helene Johnson and Dorothy West Foundation for artists in need. Both women were writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Ms. Johnson died in 1995 and Ms. West in 1998.

The program is from June to October in Oak Bluffs. A resident can stay for one or two weeks.


Abigail West

The dining room at Tony and Abigail McGrath’s home in Oak Bluffs is delicately set up with gold-rimmed china, wine glasses, and napkins wrapped with yellow roses. First course: Clam chowder made from scratch.

“For the newcomers, I’m just going to suggest that you pace yourself because, well, Abigail can cook,” said Kimberly Ellis, an artist staying this past week at the Renaissance House artist retreat run by Ms. McGrath.

Today, Sept. 16, it’s a double bill from Renaissance House.

From noon to 6 p.m. the Shephard Fine ArtSpace in Oak Bluffs is hosting an art show featuring Renassaince House artists Virginia Deeds and Barbara Russell, aka the doodle queen.

Renaissance House in Oak Bluffs is opening a branch in Harlem, offering the same retreat it offers here.

Renaissance House was founded in the memory of lifetime summer resident Helene Johnson, and Dorothy West, a legendary Vineyarder. Both writers were members of the Harlem Renaissance, an artistic movement in the 1920s and 30s. The writers were cousins who lived in Oak Bluffs; both lived in Harlem during the period of the Renaissance.