Welcome to the Town of Tisbury
By: Hannah Fillmore-Patrick
While Massachusetts didn’t consider West Tisbury separate from Vineyard Haven until 1892, West Tisbury actually contains one of the oldest English settlements on Martha’s Vineyard. Beginning in the mid-seventeenth century, this settlement was the agricultural hub of the growing island. For centuries, it grew the crops that fed the bustling ports of Edgartown and Vineyard Haven.
Today, the town of West Tisbury, along with the nearby towns of Chilmark and Aquinnah, make up the hilly “up island” region of Martha’s Vineyard. This region is less developed and, due to its larger summer properties, ritzier than the “down island” towns of Vineyard Haven, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs. The average house in West Tisbury sits on a plot of land three acres or larger. Beginning in the mid-seventeenth century, this settlement was the agricultural hub of the growing island. For centuries, it grew the crops that fed the bustling ports of Edgartown and Vineyard Haven.
West Tisbury encompasses Lambert’s Cove, a picturesque forested region that includes a historic lumberyard and cranberry bog. While most of Martha’s Vineyard is covered in the scrub pines typical of the Atlantic coastal pine barrens ecosystem, Lambert’s Cove contains groves of oak and beech trees that hug the banks of kettle ponds like Duarte’s Pond and Seth’s Pond.
On the north shore of Martha’s Vineyard, thick deciduous forests give away to strips of sandy coastline, including Lambert’s Cove Beach and Makonikey Beach in West Tisbury. This part of Martha’s Vineyard is criss-crossed by a series of winding (and often disorienting) dirt roads that lead to and from hidden summer homes. These properties are some of the island’s most desirable, since they are very private and, often, located close to Vineyard Sound.
The Long Point Wildlife Refuge, which lies just east of Tisbury Great Pond, and the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, which lies between West Tisbury and Edgartown, encompass sizeable portions of the town’s natural areas. Visitors can explore the dirt trails that run through these wildlife refuges on foot, on bicycle, on horseback, or (in the winter months) on skis.
Massachusetts established the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest on more than 5,000 acres of land in West Tisbury in 1908. The state hoped that the refuge, which was then called the “Heath Hen Reserve,” would protect the endangered heath hen from extinction. While the refuge initially boosted the health hen population, the population declined rapidly in the late 1920s due to inbreeding, disease, poaching, and predation from other birds. The last heath hen died in 1932.
Town Hall Address:
51 Spring St
Vineyard Haven, MA 02568
Phone: (508) 696-4200
Cost of Stickers:
Beach Stickers: N/A
Transfer Station Stickers: Pay-as-you-go
Shellfish License: $40 resident, $400 non-resident