Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust looks at Edgartown library

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File photo by Susan Safford

The Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust board of directors voted to begin talks with Edgartown officials about acquiring the historic Carnegie library building on North Water Street, at a board meeting on Friday, Dec. 9.

Completed in 1904, the building was a gift to the town by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, one of more than 2,500 libraries he funded throughout the world.

Voters will decide at their annual town meeting in April whether to move forward with a plan to build a new library at the site of the old Edgartown school.

Selectmen charged the town’s library building committee with making a recommendation on how to use the current library building, if a new library is built.

After ideas to use the building as a new council on aging, or a branch library were rejected, the design committee asked the Preservation Trust if it was interested in acquiring the building.

“When a building is reaching this point, when it looks like its longstanding municipal use is going to change, and it physically needs a lot of help, then the trust is asked from time to time to step in,” Chris Scott, executive director of the trust said. He said the trust board voted unanimously to begin that process.

Mr. Scott said one idea is to create a visitor center at the Carnegie building, which might include historical exhibits.

“There is going to be a lot of work with the library design committee, with selectmen, and certainly with the North Water Street community,” Mr. Scott said. “There will be some process that hopefully, results in consensus.”

The Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust owns and manages several iconic Island properties, including the Old Whaling Church, Alley’s General Store, The Flying Horses Carousel, and the Dr. Daniel Fisher House.