Edgartown LIghthouse

The Edgartown Lighthouse, the prominent beacon overlooking the outer Edgartown harbor that has long been a symbol of the town, is going to be put up to bid by the federal government, with the town and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum expressing interest in taking stewardship of the landmark.

The 1976 book To the Harbor Light by longtime Gazette editor Henry Beetle Hough drew its title from his daily early morning walks to the Edgartown Lighthouse with his collie Graham. It was a place Mr. Hough knew well, and in fact had campaigned more than once to save for public walking and enjoyment of the stunning views across the outer Edgartown harbor to Cape Pogue. Mr. Hough wrote that the lighthouse was “the kind of solitary outpost where the greatest product, peace of mind, is free to all.”

gay head lighthouse

As erosion inches the Gay Head Lighthouse closer to the edge, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum is moving ahead with a study to assess the urgency of relocating the 156-year-old structure.

The study will take place over the course of three years and provide a “more realistic” prediction of what the long-term needs are for the area, museum director David Nathans said yesterday.


Whether or not the con troversy over tearing down Henry Beetle Hough’s historic house is resolved, there is still a need for the Island to honor the memory of this conservation activist in a way commensurate with his role in preserving our lands, beaches and monuments. Adding his name to the official designation of the Edgartown Lighthouse, perhaps calling it the Henry Beetle Hough Memorial, would accomplish this. Without Henry Hough, there would be no Edgartown light, and generations would be unaware of the beauty and history we now all enjoy.



Martha’s Vineyard is privileged to have five lighthouses on its shores and a sixth at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum campus in Edgartown. Two more afar can be seen from the Island, sometimes even more at night.

This weekend all the Island’s lighthouses will be celebrated in what is being called the Martha’s Vineyard Lighthouse Challenge. Visitors from around the country who make a habit of visiting lighthouses are making a special trip to the Island to share their affection for these centuries old beacons of the waterfront night.


Beacons of History

They stand tall and straight on the horizon, an enduring symbol of the Island’s long and rich maritime history. Viewed from a distance, the Edgartown and East Chop lighthouses convey a sense of strength and of purpose.

Until recently, however, closer looks would have inspired less appreciation.

In the nineteen eighties, the Coast Guard stopped funding the maintenance of the lighthouses. Soon time and weather took their toll on the old cast-iron structures.