Imagine the challenge of establishing an Oak Bluffs Cultural District. Where would one start? In a fascinating place like Oak Bluffs, is such a district a state of mind or place based? We have an Arts District with galleries and food nearby downtown, and soon to be connected by a sidewalk to the harbor. We have the fulsome Featherstone Center for the Arts replete with water views, stone work and in a natural agrarian setting. Then there’s the Hansel and Gretel like Camp Ground with its own mini museum, also close to town center. We probably shouldn’t overlook the Highlands neighborhood of Dorothy West, one of the last members of the Harlem Renaissance — that holds two cottages destined to represent Oak Bluffs in the Smithsonian’s National African American Museum of History and Culture that opens this September.

How would the Flying Horses at one end of Circuit avenue and the Samuel Pratt designed Union Chapel at the other end, fit into the mix of consideration? Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, with its extensive art collection, is somewhat along the bike path and enjoys water views of Vineyard Sound, Vineyard Haven’s harbor and the Lagoon. But quasi centrally located, transportation wise, is the hospital worth a thought?

At our southernmost end of town, the complex of the regional high school, ice arena, YMCA, skate park and community services campus have much to offer. The North Bluff has the restaurants of the harbor, water views, perhaps a new beach (presuming its new steel wall doesn’t wash it away) and is the gateway to the “Bluffs.”

Arts Martha’s Vineyard and the Oak Bluffs Association have combined to initiate discussion of the establishment of a state-designated cultural district in Oak Bluffs. This is an obvious no lose, all win situation for our tiny town, a way for the state of Massachusetts to nationally promote visits to special places like ours. The effort requires the application by our board of selectors, and that the district be in walking distance of its centre. That means a circle with a half mile radius that would not include the hospital, high school campus or, alas, Featherstone. It will, however include the original nine major parks and a host of our popular monuments and buildings. The support of the public is mandatory — and I’ll be sure to follow up on this novel idea.

Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s historian Linsey Lee leads an oral history workshop Saturday, March 19 at the Oak Bluffs Library celebrating Island women for Women’s History Month. Bring a smart-phone with a QR code reader to hear women like Oak Bluffs’ late Dorothy West and Lois Mailou Jones (among others) speak in their own voices. The event is called Hearing Our Stories; Telling Our Stories and is from 1 to 3 p.m. WMVY’s Laurel Redington and Oak Bluffs Librarian Nate Luce are instructing interviewing skills for interested young ladies. Space is limited and more information is available at 508-693-9433.

The library continues its popular Books on Tap series at the Barn, Bowl & Bistro at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 23. The featured book is Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming. If you didn’t know that James Bond creator Ian Fleming wrote the book behind the 1968 film starring Dick Van Dyke (I didn’t) it’s a story he created for his son Caspar at bedtime. You may enjoy the evening even better with a beverage shaken not stirred by the bistro staff.

The United Methodist Church of Martha’s Vineyard begins Holy Week with Palm Sunday service at the Edgartown Whaling Church at 10 a.m., March 20. There will be a seder-themed meal Thursday, March 24 at the Oak Bluffs Parish House at 7 p.m. (Passover is officially April 22) and a continuous showing of Mel Gibson’s The Passion is at Trinity Church on Good Friday, March 25 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. See the website at

Thursday, March 24, Dine to Donate at Offshore Ale. Twenty per cent of pre-tax food sales will be donated to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and again from 5 to 8:30 p.m. For reservations, call 508-693-2626.

A funeral service will be held for Jardin Mahoney’s Philip Lockwood Swift on April 16 at Chapman, Cole and Gleason at 11 a.m. followed by a reception.

The Oak Bluffs Library has morphed into a cultural center for young and old alike and worthy of consideration for a Cultural District, but because it is outside of the half mile perimeter it will be a destination, like Featherstone.

Keep your foot on a rock.

Send Oak Bluffs news to