The Oak Bluffs’ Island Theatre is perhaps the fourth or fifth oldest movie theatre in America and the odds are that the owners will be forced to tear it down this fall due to its unsafe (and less than appealing) condition. What a missed opportunity for us to have had an additional Oak Bluffs National Landmark to accompany the Flying Horses, Union Chapel and the Tabernacle.

Following my recent whining about the presumed fate of the Island Theatre, I got a note from Fred McLennan who operated the (then) three Vineyard theatres, including the Island located at number one Circuit avenue. A story he shared was that it had taken a year to get a 35mm print of the movie Jaws for its 20th anniversary. Running it all summer long he claims it out grossed the entire summer products of Universal Pictures. When actor Richard Dreyfuss attended one night the audience applauded every time he appeared on screen. Another story was that John Rogers, the Island’s late projectionist, met Ted Danson after a film one night and said to Mr. Rogers, “That was a terrible movie, why didn’t you tell me?” John replied, “You didn’t ask me.”

In a 2014 letter to the Gazette, Mr. McLennan wrote that during a showing of Forrest Gump, Sally Field, who played Gump’s Mom, couldn’t get in with her children due to it having been sold out. The irony of losing a theatre so iconoclastic that actors who performed in the films shown there couldn’t get in, is teeth-grindingly disgusting. Built in 1915 by A.P. Eagleston and called the Eagle, before its name was changed to the Island, it is one of the largest and oldest buildings in Oak Bluffs. At the time, when it held 500 people, it was the largest theatre in southern New England.

Structural problems have persisted at the old theatre at least since a storm in 1924 did substantial damage to its roof, according to a 1926 lawsuit. There has been apocryphal discussion that the building was never built correctly in the first place and would not stand up to today’s building codes. The real issue has been the blatant lack of maintenance and repair by the owners over the years whose inattention has occasioned the attention of our civic leaders who now must protect the town’s basic safety interests. What a shame.

The Oak Bluffs Library is having its huge three-day book sale this week, Thursday, July 21, and Friday, July 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be bunches of great books along with DVD’s, CD’s and audio books for sale. Also, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. the Touch a Truck event returns for kids of all ages to explore real trucks, including fire trucks.

Author and historian David McCullough is presenting Why History Matters as a benefit for the Tabernacle Restoration Fund at the Tabernacle on Friday, July 22, at 7 p.m. Tickets are available and DaRosa’s. Call 508-693-0525 for more information. The library hosts the Cottagers for a talk and reception in honor of their 60th year on Wednesday, July 27, at 5 p.m.

All are welcome to see Gloria White-Hammonds and Ray Hammonds, co-pastors of the Bethel AME Church in Boston, guest preachers at the Tabernacle on Sunday, July 24. Their sermon is entitled Legacy — What Matters Most. The Hammonds are medical doctors, as well as pastors of the Bethel AME Church. Service starts at 10 a.m.

The movie The Same Heart will be shown at the Strand Theatre on Sunday, July 24 at 8 p.m. and hosted by Charlayne Hunter-Gault who will also present the filmmakers, Len and Georgia Morris and Petra Lent McCarron after the screening for a Q&A.

On Tuesday, July 26 at 6 p.m. the A Gallery hosts a hand bag party and silent auction with wine and appetizers to raise funds for Women Empowered.

Richard Taylor will have a reading and signing session for his new book, Martha’s Vineyard-Race, Property and the Power of Place at the Library next Thursday, July 28 at 5 p.m.

Among the many opportunities to give to charities and organizations please consider a contribution to the MV Theater Foundation ( that operates the Strand Theatre. Let’s support what will soon be our only movie theatre in town. Also, begin thinking about what you would like to see in place of the soon to be defunct Island Theatre.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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