Martha’s Vineyard Museum will lease historic Vineyard Haven schoolhouse

The Martha's Vineyard Museum will lease the former Nathan Mayhew Schoolhouse on Main Street to host educational programs.

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum announced Monday that in response to growing demands for educational programming and facilities, it will lease the former Nathan Mayhew Schoolhouse on Main Street, Vineyard Haven, for three years from the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust.

The museum plans to establish a satellite education program in the schoolhouse, which it will name the Morgan Learning Center, and will offer an additional classroom for the museum’s use, a second venue for summer Discovery Days kids’ programs already offered on the Edgartown campus, and an occasional event and exhibition space for continuing community outreach, the museum said, all made possible with a grant from the Beagary Charitable Trust.

The schoolhouse was until recently the headquarters of Sail MV, and is just a short distance from the harbor and Vineyard Haven library. The museum is in the process of moving to the former Marine Hospital/St. Pierre School on Lagoon Pond Road in Vineyard Haven, and plans to move most of its current operations there in the future.

“I’m excited for this opportunity for the museum to extend our programming into a different part of the Island and to use a different type of historic space in such a central location on Main Street in Vineyard Haven,” Museum Education Director Ann DuCharme said.

The museum said it has dramatically expanded its service to the Island school system over the past five years. Specialized humanities programs offered for pre-K students, and collaboration with the local chapter of Head Start to promote school readiness of young children from low-income families on the Island, are new initiatives that began this year, according to a press release.

The Beagary Charitable Trust is a private foundation established in 1995 to provide financial aid to educational institutions, museums, research institutions, and other organizations formed to preserve and teach United States and world history.

The Morgan and Normington families have been supporting the museum and its catboat Vanity for many years. John M. Morgan was a member of the museum’s board of directors for a few years. The families continue to support programs that improve the quality of life for Vineyarders and preserve the history of the Island.

The Nathan Mayhew Schoolhouse, the Island’s oldest one-room schoolhouse, established in 1828, was owned by the DAR for 50 years and operated as a nautical museum.

“We are so pleased to see the schoolhouse building continue to be used with an educational framework as it was in the mid-19th century,” Preservation Trust Executive Director Christopher Scott said. “The Island schoolchildren will greatly benefit from the museum’s programs there.”

In addition to leasing the building, the new project links two Island nonprofits with similar philosophies. “We have two historically-minded organizations each bringing the best of their mission to this collaboration,” Museum Executive Director David Nathans said. “The Preservation Trust’s building combined with the museum’s programming will make for a great partnership for the next three years.”

For more information about upcoming programming and exhibits, go to