Help Save the Gay Head Lighthouse!

Gay Head Lighthouse at sunset

The Gay Head Lighthouse, an island treasure with a long and rich history, is at risk. Standing just 46 feet (Aug ’13) from an eroding cliff, it was recently designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and geological experts advise it should be moved within the next year and a half.

The Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee needs your support in helping us save this iconic structure and working navigational beacon, which has been shining out from the picturesque cliffs of the western most tip of Martha’s Vineyard since 1856.  The light has guided mariners and fishermen from all over the globe safely past the cliffs of Gay Head and the Devil’s Bridge below. Its red and white sweeping beam connects us to this place and the sea beyond.

Your donation will help fund the move and restoration of the Gay Head Lighthouse to a location and condition that will sustain it for many generations. The fundraising goal for this project is $3,000,000.  Donations of any amount are important and greatly appreciated. A special fund has been established exclusively for this project through the Town of Aquinnah and all gifts are tax-deductible. We are racing against time.

With your help, the Gay Head Light will KEEP ON SHINING! Click here to find out more.

Photograph by Katherine Gendreau Photography

Protect Gay Head Light as It Protects Us

Gay Head cliffs and Lighthouse

At annual town meetings across the Island, Community Preservation Committees will be asking voters to follow their recommendations and support Aquinnah’s application for Community Preservation Act historic preservation funds to save the Gay Head Lighthouse.

The current Gay Head Lighthouse has been standing sentinel on the clay cliffs of Aquinnah since 1856. It is now in danger and it desperately needs the entire Island community to help save it. If we don’t, the stately brick structure, which remains an active aid to navigation, an icon of Martha’s Vineyard and an important living piece of our nautical heritage and history, will soon be replaced by the United States Coast Guard with a metal tower and LED light. To imagine Martha’s Vineyard without this icon is unthinkable on so many levels and we simply cannot let that happen.

When last measured, the lighthouse sat a mere 46 feet from the edge of the cliffs and engineers require at least 30 feet, preferably 40 feet, in order to get equipment in to move it. The erosion has been monitored for the last 23 years but lately the pace has picked up, perhaps due to more frequent heavy rains. Last year 4.5 feet were lost in one section, luckily not a section closest to the lighthouse but the indications are clear — move it or the Coast Guard will disassemble it before it tumbles into the sea.

- See more at:

OpEd: Gay Head Light’s salvation needs help of all towns

The history of the Gay Head Light is long and rich. As sentinel for one of the most significant shipping lanes on the East Coast for over two centuries, its first order Fresnel Lens has alerted scores to the dangers of Devil’s Bridge. From the time it was built in 1856, it has drawn people to it, with New Bedford steamers bringing weekend tourists to Pilot’s Landing where oxcarts took them up the hill to the famous Light. The lighthouse remains a welcome and important part of our Island heritage and history. There are few things as amazing as a sunset climb up to the light room and a look ahead across the cliffs to the Sound, and then a look back over this amazing island we call home.

As chairman of the Aquinnah CPC, I want to report that we have consistently been a strong supporter of the Gay Head Light, even though the town owns neither the Light nor the land beneath it (yet). Over the years we have spent significantly for emergency restoration, and this year we are committing over $120,000 of our $170,000 CPA budget to the Light. Equally important is that I want to tell

Continue reading OpEd: Gay Head Light’s salvation needs help of all towns

Town Submits Application for Ownership of Gay Head Light

The town of Aquinnah moved one step closer to owning the Gay Head Light this week when it submitted a comprehensive application to the federal government for ownership.

The application follows months of preparation including geological surveys, historic research and site evaluations.

“It’s finished,” town administrator Adam Wilson, who spearheaded the effort, announced at the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday. “I’m happy to report that I’m heading over to UPS with all the various binders and handing over the package. It’s been a long process but it’s been a good one, and there’s been a lot of support from the Gay Head Light committee,” Mr. Wilson said.

The town began planning for the acquisition project a year and a half ago. The 1856 lighthouse now stands 46 feet from the edge of a rapidly eroding cliff and must be moved sometime in the next year. Continue reading….


Rosanne Cash to Play Summer Benefit for Gay Head Light

The ongoing effort to raise money to move the Gay Head Light got an extra boost this week with the news that country music legend Rosanne Cash will come to the Vineyard this summer to play a benefit concert.

Mitzi Pratt, a member of the save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee, confirmed Wednesday that plans are in the early stages for the Grammy-winning recording artist to perform at Flatbread on July 1.

At their meeting Tuesday the Aquinnah selectmen signed a letter of intent to enter into a contract with Ms. Cash. The selectmen are overseeing the relocation of the lighthouse, which must be moved sometime in the next year due to rapid erosion at the Gay Head Cliffs. The 1856 brick tower now stands 46 feet from the edge of the cliff.

Ms. Pratt said the committee approached Ms. Cash about the possibility of a concert and received a positive response.

“We are thrilled at the possibility of having her grace our shores,” she said in a brief press statement about the event.

Ms. Pratt said logistics such as an opening act and ticket prices are still in the process of being settled. She said Flatbread has donated

Continue reading Rosanne Cash to Play Summer Benefit for Gay Head Light

Field Borings Concluded at Gay Head Lighthouse Site

Jan. 23, 2014 — Aquinnah, MA— Geologic Earth Exploration, Inc. completed field borings this past week at the Gay Head Lighthouse site. The effort, under the direction and supervision of GEI Consultants, is a critical part of a study to determine the composition of the soils underlying the lighthouse and below the potential relocation sites. Engineers and geologists will review the data and samples collected to determine the suitability of the locations to support the lighthouse as well as the geological sustainability of each site over a long period of time.

Geologic Earth Explorations crew conducting borings tests


The field work consisted of boring 22 individual holes to a depth of 20 to 40 feet and collecting soil samples at 5-foot intervals. While the GEI field engineer collected samples and recorded drilling data, a research geologist, Byron Stone from the U.S. Geological Survey, examined the core samples to determine their composition at different depths. In addition, Stone, a consultant to The Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee, will assess the relocation sites to help determine the best site in terms of resistance to future erosion. By analyzing the depths and thicknesses of silt, sand and clay layers and

Continue reading Field Borings Concluded at Gay Head Lighthouse Site

Winter Heat Raffle for the Gay Head Lighthouse

[stextbox id="info" bwidth="2" color="ffffff" bcolor="4e7e5c" bgcolor="73bf7a"] Feeling the chill this winter? The Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee will be holding a raffle this month for 100 gallons of propane and 100 gallons of heating oil generously donated by Vineyard Propane to help finance our cause. Chances can be purchased at down-island Cronigs from 11 am to 4 pm on January 19th, 25th and 31st as well as February 1st for $5.00, or 5 chances for $20.00. The winning name will be drawn on February 1. We are also looking for help on any additional days this month, if you can help please contact Berta Welch at [/stextbox]

Lighthouse Poetry Project Deadline Extended

If holiday festivities and duties have silenced your poetic muse, relax. You have more time to enter your work in the Gay Head Lighthouse Poetry Project.

The deadline for submission has been extended to January 7, 2014. Read more about the project here.

3D Model Helps Set Stage for Gay Head Light Relocation

The committee to save the Gay Head Light is going three dimensional in its preparations for relocating the old lighthouse.

In October, the committee received a grant from Meridian Associates, a land surveying and civil engineering firm in Beverly that specializes in 3D laser scanning modeling. The company visited the lighthouse last week with a laser scanner to generate an accurate 3D model of the lighthouse, chairman of the lighthouse building committee Lenny Butler said, adding that there is no structural plan of the lighthouse as it exists today.

“They scanned the building inside and out and it will produce a 3D model that is accurate within a centimeter,” Mr. Butler said. “It will be a useful tool for engineering because the structural engineers can look at it and see where the stressers are and calculate the move.”

The engineers will also be able to model any reactions the structure may have during the move, Mr. Butler said.

- Continue reading at Martha’s Vineyard Gazette…..

Two Vineyard Residents to Receive Community Preservation Award

Good friends and like-minded community activists Philippe Jordi, of West Tisbury and Derrill Bazzy of Aquinnah, have each been named to receive Kuehn Awards from the Community Preservation Coalition. Though nominated independently, they will be honored simultaneously for their use of the Community Preservation Act to enrich and preserve their respective communities.

Named after Bob Kuehn, one of the primary forces behind the creation of Massachusetts’s Community Preservation Act (CPA), and someone who also cared deeply about Martha’s Vineyard, the Robert Kuehn Award is given to individuals who embody the spirit of the Act by turning ideas into action. Jordi is executive director of the Island Housing Trust, a community land trust and community development corporation that has helped provide hope and opportunity to hundreds of island residents seeking a dignified solution to their affordable needs over the past eight years. Bazzy, a designer with South Mountain Co., has been chair of Aquinnah’s Community Preservation Committee since its inception eleven years ago. He has been an active participant in generating and designing affordable housing Island-wide, and is the former chair of the Aquinnah Affordable Housing Committee. Bazzy also co-chaired the committee that oversaw the historic restoration of the Vanderhoop Homestead

Continue reading Two Vineyard Residents to Receive Community Preservation Award

Erosion study underscores Gay Head Lighthouse peril

A Sourati Engineering Group employee surveyed the Gay Head cliffs in August 2012 as part of the work for a recently completed erosion study.

MV Times: Erosion cut the distance between the imperiled Gay Head Lighthouse and the edge of the bluff on which its now sits as much as five feet during the year ended in August, according to the results of an erosion study released last week by the Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee (SGHLC), which has mounted a multi-million dollar effort to save the iconic Martha’s Vineyard beacon.

“The results of the most recent erosion study conducted on the cliffs surrounding Gay Head Lighthouse demonstrate the unpredictability of the rate of erosion and underscore the need to act quickly to avoid a worst-case scenario,” the committee said in a press release.

Results from two surveys taken by George Sourati of Sourati Engineering Group in Vineyard Haven, one on August 8, 2012 and again August 7, 2013, were compared in the press release. The latest survey revealed that the top of the bluff surrounding the lighthouse had eroded in several areas.

According to the press release, a 25-foot portion southeast of the

Continue reading Erosion study underscores Gay Head Lighthouse peril