More than 100 people braved the cold on Friday and made their way up Short Hill Road in Tisbury for the opening of the new Vineyard House center, a residential campus for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

“We have had a miraculous transformation at this site in the last 24 hours,” said managing director Dawn Bellante Holland, who was joined by several of the group’s founders, early supporters, and others who had contributed to the project over the years.  

Each of the front entrances was adorned by an evergreen wreath, and a Christmas tree was lit up at the end of the main courtyard. People had been working since before dawn to prepare the site for the opening.  

“We are 98.7 per cent there,” said Mark Jenkins, president of the board of directors. He added that the first residents were expected to move in on Saturday. “This was truly a partnership," he said of the many groups that made the project possible. "They did an amazing job.”  

Dawn Bellante Holand, executive director of Vineyard House. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Designed by Mashek MacLean and built by Squash Meadow Construction, the campus includes two men’s dormitories, one women’s house, an administrative building and spaces for meetings and other uses. An elaborate stone patio, known as “Patio-henge” by some board members, was designed by Island stone mason Lew French.  

Vineyard House was founded by volunteers in 1997 to provide safe, substance-free housing for people  in the early stages of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Its first property was financed by a private donation, and two others were later purchased near the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.  

Bill Potter, president of Squash Meadow Construction, has been associated with Vineyard House since the beginning. “To see the transformation from what the organization did at that point and where it is today is just mind blowing,” he said at the opening on Friday. “It really, truly is an honor.”  

Part of what made the project special, he said, was the teamwork that went into it. He said the spiritual principles of recovery – such as trust, honesty and compassion – formed the basis of the project itself. “Once that was established, it was no longer a client-contractor relationship. It was this integrated team. And it resulted in not only the biggest project we have ever done but also the easiest and most seamless project.”  

He added that the new Vineyard House is on-target for LEED gold certification, the second-highest rating offered by the U.S. Green Building Council.  

Mary Nada, a founding member of Vineyard House who headed the $3 million fundraising campaign for the new campus, had the honor of cutting the ribbon. Following the ceremony, people strolled through the new buildings in their stocking feet or in blue shoe covers, admiring the new spaces and catching up with friends.  

A formal dedication is planned for the spring.