A Vineyard Haven landmark is brought back to life

Wortman grandaughter Kiera DuPuy serves up some appetizers. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Dozens of happy Vineyard Haven residents gathered at the home of Denys and Marilyn Wortman on Hines Point last Friday to celebrate the progress to date on the restoration of the Tashmoo Spring Building at the head of Lake Tashmoo. They were also there to fuel the effort to finish the job. The evening was billed as the Tastes of Tashmoo.

The 124-year-old brick building was the original pumping station for the town of Tisbury. Six years ago, it was on its last legs, dilapidated and dangerous. Today, it is a handsome, sturdy reminder of the way things were built when they were built to last. To get here, a cadre of dedicated volunteers worked with town officials to raise a total of $725,000 to save and restore the building. Of that total, $527,000 came from Community Preservation Act funds, $80,000 from private donations, $80,000 from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, $35,000 from town taxes, and $2,000 from the Permananent Endowment Fund.

“This is going to be a great thing for the town,” Mr. Wortman said after leading the crowd in a spirited rendition of Happy Birthday to honor his wife’s birthday two days earlier. “And we’re close to the end. We need $70,000, maybe a little more, to finish the job.”

When the job is done, Tisbury will have a truly unusual multi-purpose building. Plans for its use are unclear, but there is talk of holding meetings and a few private gatherings, including weddings, in the building. “We don’t want to turn it into a wedding factory,” Mr. Wortman was quick to point out, “but the hope is that the building will pay for itself.”

The first official use of the building — its coming out party — will be on Friday, Sept. 23, with an opening from 4:30 to 7 pm for a show of town-grown art organized by Patricia Carlet, an artist herself and a completely enthusiastic member of the restoration committee. The show will be up through Friday, September 30, open every day from 12 noon to 4 pm.

“When my husband and I visited Paris three years ago, we walked into what we thought was an art gallery, and it turned out to be a police prefecture with an art show in it, and all the artists were Parisian police officers,” Ms. Carlet said. “We’re going to do the same thing here, with town officials, employees, and members of boards and committees showing their artwork. You wouldn’t believe the talent there is.”

The mood of the evening was absolutely positive. The fabulous siting of the Wortmans’ home didn’t hurt, nor did the upbeat renditions of familiar tunes by the Tashmoo Trio — Christine McLean, Chris Seidel, and Penny Huff — and taste treats from Island farms, waters, restaurants, caterers, wineshops, and brewery. Folks were just plain feeling good about themselves and what they’ve accomplished — and looking forward to the next leg of the journey.

“When we first started this project, people said, ‘get the bulldozer,'” Mr. Wortman said. “But now we’re going to have something the town is going to be proud of.”