Chilmark & Menemsha
Chilmark is a small, rural community, with approximately 650 residents, and is located toward the western end of Martha's Vineyard. Most of its 10,639 (34 square miles) are devoted to residential and agricultural use – you can get fresh flowers at a Beetlebung Corner self-serve stand, Island-raised lamb at the Allen Farm and wool items knit from their own sheep, eggs from really free range chickens and bacon from local pigs.
It is well known for its beautiful rolling hills lined by stone walls and its unmatched coastline. Menemsha Village is on its northern border and its family friendly beach is a favorite spot to swim and to watch the unparalleled sunsets at the end of a lazy summer's day. There is also a boat launch in Menemsha, as well as a Coast Guard Station.
The small center of town consists of a small elementary schoolhouse, originally a one-room school built circa 1850 and still in use for the 55 pre-kindergarten through Grade 5 students. There is also a tiny post office and a public library with a collection of videos and DVDs that would rival a small video store and a Vineyard room with a wonderful collection of everything Vineyard. Interesting adult and children's programs are scheduled year-round. The village also has a town hall built circa 1897, and a handsome church built in 1843. In July and August the Center hosts a program for children and families which offers a play school, a morning program with a full range of indoor and outdoor activities, and an evening program of movies, lectures, dancing and music for children and adults of all ages. Off-season, it provides the setting for a variety of events, including pre-school classes, wedding receptions, clambakes and the Fire Department's annual Christmas party. It's the site for cultural and social events through much of the year; choir and social performers particularly like its cozy welcoming atmosphere.
The Chilmark Store, a quintessential country store, is the heart of Chilmark. Open only during the season, its porch is a hotspot that unites summer people who've not seen each other since the year before – many of them resident celebrities from whom you might be able to collect an autograph. The porch, with its selection of rocking chairs and benches, is a great place to eat the breakfast foods, pizza and sandwiches prepared in the store.
Chilmark Chocolates, a treat to visit even if you are not a chochoholic(!), are made and sold in a small building just down from Beetlebung Corner. It is not unusual to encounter lines of customers spilling out into the parking lot. It is a particularly wonderful business as it employees many of the Island’s more challenged citizens who take great pride in their fine work.
Recreation: To reach a spectacular overlook and rock-strewn beach - not for swimming - on Vineyard Sound go to The Menemsha Hills Reservation of the Trustees of Reservations. For those with energeticbodies and souls there is also the annual 5K Chilmark Road Race, which has been run for over three decades. It takes place the second Saturday of August each year and attracts hundreds.
Entertainment: The Yard (three houses and a barn, now converted to a studio and a theater) is a performing artists' dance colony tucked that was founded in 1973 by dancer and well known choreographer, Patricia N. Nanon. It is a wonderful space for contemporary dance artists to develop new works that shares its t diverse acts with the Island community and its visitors by giving performances on site and around the Island, especially at Island schools.