Camp Meeting History


Tabernacle Cupola Restoration Mixes History, New Technology

The Tabernacle cupola is undergoing the most significant restoration in more than a century. The $635,000 project will not only preserve the cupola for the years ahead, but restore its key purposes of ventilation and visual distinction.

For Russell E. Dagnall, president of the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, the work, called Topping off the Tabernacle, is but part of a much larger $3 million restoration of the Tabernacle that began almost 10 years ago.

Camp Ground Wins Designation As National Historic Landmark

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton has recognized the Camp Ground in Oak Bluffs as a National Historic Landmark.
The Camp Ground, created as a gathering place for Methodist religious revivals starting in 1835, is one of 24 new national landmarks named earlier this month of Secretary Norton.
The National Park Service Advisory Board nominated the Camp Ground under the name Wesleyan Grove.

Tabernacle's Birthday Celebrated with History, Song and Applause

More than 2,000 people gathered in the Tabernacle Saturday night to celebrate the structure's 125th birthday.

Grandparents, grandchildren, and everyone in between filled the rows, sitting on some of the same benches used in the 1800s, when the religious campers gathered under the oak trees and the canvas tent that predated the Tabernacle's construction in 1879.

"It had begun to look its age - and so have I," said the evening's host, newsman and Vineyard Haven summer resident Mike Wallace, complimenting achievements of the Tabernacle's current restoration project.

Camp Ground’s Tabernacle Is 125

The Tabernacle, which celebrates its 125th birthday this season, still feels young. A structure suited to a vast range of human activity, the Tabernacle - which towers above Trinity Park in the heart of the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association in Oak Bluffs - remains a living landmark.
The word tabernacle refers to a temporary shelter, such as the tent sanctuaries used by the Israelites during the Exodus. But the Camp Ground’s Tabernacle has proved anything but temporary.

When Oak Bluffs Seceded: The Gazette’s Fulminations Were Bitter But Unavailing

The whininess, contempt and partisanship with which the Vineyard Gazette reported this story over six years is journalism in its brightest rain-slicker yellow - all the more embarrassing and entertaining today because the paper lost the fight.

Hezekiah the Bell Is Ringing Again

At last Sunday’s service in the Oak Bluffs Trinity Church on the Camp Ground, Hezekiah began ringing again. The bell atop the belfry began ringing as it had rung back in 1966 before it suffered a fall, its yoke broken from old age.
For 16 years the 1,500-pound bell, made in 1888, lay dormant at the foot of its base. As a poor substitute, the bell’s sound was replaced by an electronic recording.

Parishioners Seek Donations So Hezekiah May Toll Again

There was a time at the Oak Bluffs Camp Ground when a bell atop Trinity Church rang the beginning of summer’s festive events, just as it would each Sunday’s call to worship. Its sound was crisp and sweet and its music sounded out over the Oak Bluffs rooftops and beyond.
Each summer, “Hezekiah,” as the bell is called, rang before Illumination Night’s first lantern was lit and prior to each religious event across the street at the Tabernacle. There are those who can remember. And there are those who would like to hear it again.

The Singing 1920's

The singing 1920’s are happy years I recall as the years of a community-serving Tabernacle.
Singing could be heard almost anywhere, almost anytime in Oak Bluffs because half the members of the choir of the Tabernacle lived together, played together and loved to sing together wherever they were. Mr. and Mrs. Adams, Dad and Mother to everyone who knew them, were the leaders of this group of vocal students on vacation.

Oak Bluffs Camp Ground Makes Register

The Camp Ground at Oak Bluffs is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Michael J. Connolly, secretary of state for the Commonwealth and the new chairman of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, made the news public.
The Camp Ground, Mr. Connolly said, is an area “unique in the nation for its architecture, remarkable state of preservation and as the best example of a nineteenth century religious retreat.

Again An Old-Fashioned Oak Bluffs Illumination

Stars sparkled, pink and gold and orange lanterns bobbed, and a soft wind played among the chimes in the Camp Ground Wednesday night for the 104th annual Illumination Night.