Excellent shops, fine restaurants, and a beautiful harbor are only a few of the attractions that make Vineyard Haven so special to tourists and residents alike.
The town that incorporates Vineyard Haven is called Tisbury, after a parish in England near the birthplace of the Island’s first governor, Thomas Mayhew. English settlement of the area dates from the mid-1600s, when Mayhew purchased the settlement rights from the Crown.
Owen Park, off Main Street (just beyond the shopping district), honors one of Vineyard Haven’s whaling captains. The town beach here is a fine place to watch the harbor. Ferries shuttle in and out, providing the Island’s year-round connection to the mainland.
On the opposite side of Main Street from Owen Park is the Old Schoolhouse Museum. Erected in 1828, this building has served many uses. It was once a carpentry shop, a school, and later served as the Congregational Church. In front of the museum stands the tall white Liberty Pole, commemorating the daring of three young women who inserted gun powder in the base of the town’s liberty pole in 1778 and blew it up to keep it from being used as a spar by a British warship.
When the Congregationalists outgrew their little church in 1844, they built a neo-classic building on Spring Street that later became the Unitarian Church and eventually the town hall. Vineyard Haven’s municipal building is one of the Island’s most handsome architectural legacies of whaling days.
The Vineyard Playhouse building on Church Street was built in 1833 as a Methodist meeting house. Today it houses the Island’s only year-round professional theater company.
When ships were powered by wind and canvas, Vineyard Haven was one of New England’s busiest ports because of its strategic location on the sailing routes. Most of the coastwise shipping traveled through Vineyard Sound (13,814 vessels were counted in 1845). Holmes Hole, as this harbor community was called, provided a convenient anchorage. Here a ship and its crew could lay over comfortably to wait out bad weather, pick up provisions, or take on an experienced local pilot who could negotiate the rips and shoals that were the special perils of this sea route.
In addition to Owen Park, the town maintains War Veterans’ Memorial Park off Causeway Road (located just behind the fire station). The park includes playground equipment for young children and playing fields used by local ball teams.
There are many scenic places around the town: in addition to Main Street and the harbor, the Tashmoo Lake overlook on State Road, the nearby Tisbury Water Works, West Chop Lighthouse, and the area around the drawbridge on Beach Road are favorite spots for photographers.
Fire – To report a fire dial 911
Beach Street Station: 508.696.4246
Police – To report an emergency dial 911
To report urgency, but no emergency dial 311
Water Street Station: 508.696.4240
Tisbury Town Hall
51 SPRING STREET
PO BOX 1239, VINEYARD HAVEN 02568
If no direct number is listed please contact the town hall or website.
Town Administrator –508.696.4203
Ambulance Service (Business only) - 508.696.4214
Animal Control Officer –508-696-4200
Building & Zoning Inspector –508.696.4280
Municipal Census Supervisor
Town Clerk - 508.696.4215
Treasurer & Tax Collector - 508-696-4250
Town Boards, Etc.
Board of Health - 508.696.4290
Capital Program Committee
Conservation Commission - 508.696.4260
Council on Aging - 508.696.4205
Finance & Advisory Committee
Harbor Management Committee
Martha’s Vineyard Commission
Planning Board - 508.696.4270
Public Works Commissioners - 508.696.4220
Recreation Department - 508.696.4220
Water Commissioners - 508.696.4230
William Street Historic District Commission/Tisbury Historic Commission