Tisbury School gym undergoes demolition


Heavy demolition of the Tisbury School gym began over the weekend and by Monday one whole side of the structure had been torn away, revealing still in place basketball hoops and wall-mounted radiators.

While The Times was on scene midday Monday, a Costello Dismantling excavator made short work of a large rooftop air conditioning unit and nibbled away several other parts of the structure. 

School Committee chair Amy Houghton told The Times she expects demolition to be completed Dec. 9, just in time for a Dec. 10 groundbreaking ceremony for the $82 million renovation and addition project. Houghton said students currently remain in the school, however on Nov. 28 they will transition to a campus of modular classrooms erected adjacent to the jobsite.

A tree that escaped being taken down following a protest by Anna Edey, a frequent commenter on Zoom meetings about the project, was ultimately taken down, Houghton said. Edey drew the attention of Tisbury Police in August when she came to the school, brandished carving forks, and urged contractors not to cut down trees near the gym. Edey didn’t get charged for the incident. 

Tisbury School Building Committee chair Michael Watts told The Times concrete from the demolition job will be recycled, potentially on-Island, and steel from the job will be recycled off-Island. Previously, Watts said, hazardous materials, found in places like window seals and roof flashing, was abated under the observation of an industrial hygienist.


  1. Why were the hoops, radiators, piping, etc. not salvaged prior to demolition? Asking for a friend who sees this as a bit of a waste considering that there is value in those items.

    • Richard– I can only hope that the radiators and piping etc are being salvaged. Most likely for scrap. Probably easier to pull all that out after demo.
      We live in a throw away world. Just think about the bricks-
      When I lived in Maine, there was a spot where the bricks from an old industrial chimney were dumped in a low lying area near a stream; Years before I got there. If you needed a few bricks, that was the place to go. A cold chisel and a few minutes worth of work and you had a nice “antique” brick for your walkway or garden edging.
      The bricks in the gym are worth about $1 each– It would cost about 50 cents to transport each of these bricks off island. There could be a whole cottage industry cleaning and selling those bricks, but that would be too practical. Hopefully, they will at least go to Goodales and get turned into RAP. But who knows ?

      • Hi Don. You may be right about scraping contents once the building is down. Of course, most of whatever is left at that point is only good for scrap except brick . Basketball hoops and RTU’s are a different story. There was definitely money there. Take care.

  2. Someone should have taken the time to read the plaque on the inside of the main entrance to the gym. One of the officials who were dedicated at the building of the gym was the father of one of the foremost officials of a recent Presidential administration!!!!!

    • How is it disrespect? The building was 100 years old and vastly outdated, filled with hazardous materials, like asbestos, lead, and mold. Isn’t the safety and education of your children not more important than a building that is well past its useful life and owes us nothing? The building was manmade and should have been entirely replaced, not a makeshift renovation. That’s what is disrespectful, not to give the students and teachers a brand new building that would have been partially reimbursed by the State when you had the chance. Now you have to pay the full bill and get a less than needed rebuild that will likely have issues as soon as it is completed. Just go into the high school and see how 3 different additions interact with each other. We can no longer cheap out on our schools and the education of our children. Pay for good buildings and pay the teachers what they deserve, not doing that is what is disrespectful.

      • How do suggest we pay teachers what they deserve? Just give each one say 100k plus benefits? Should some get more than others? What about the tenured 30 year teacher who is not so good versus the 5 year teacher who is excellent. I await the solution.

        • How much should a teacher earn?
          A Chemical Engineer?
          Did you earn more with 30 years of experience in your field than you did with 5?
          With 30 years experience were you not so good?

        • Let’s start with a comparable wage adjusted for the cost of living on MV. Like what is done with houses, look at comparable schools in the region, i.e. Cape schools and Nantucket. Then adjust for the cost of living on MV. I can tell you now that Nantucket teachers are paid more than MV. Teachers are evaluated on an annual basis. It is up to the school administrations to develop new teachers and keep experienced teachers motivated to perform at high levels. Poor teachers shouldn’t last 30 years in a school system. If that is happening, it is time to look at the reasons why. Let’s start there.

      • I think that you misunderstood Katherines comment. She meant lack of respect for not removing a plaque prior to burying it amongst the rubble. As far as referring to waste, I assume that she feels the way that I do when I talk to the fact of recycling whatever you are able to for both environmental and financial reasons. Maybe I misunderstood.

  3. After watching the most recent confusing ZOOM meeting of the building committee & the selectmen, $85 million dollars is going to be a drop in the bucket with all the usual, predictable very expensive overruns will be especially with stock prices rising daily and the future of our country looking bleak as all hell.
    I hate what the financial future and extreme tax hikes will be on us Tisbury year rounders.

  4. I wonder if Carlos Degotta is a property owner in VH?
    It is the property owners who will see the rise in taxes. It is the renter that will suffer from rent increases.
    Such comments are typical of many who do not do their homework and see how $82 million for a school is to effect all of us who work hard to pay our property taxes and not just rent out our houses to make up the slack.
    Mr Degotta, it’s important to realize that though we appreciate new thiings, do we really need a brand new Mercedes or can we have real expectations and own a Buick? It comes down to what is reasonable and affordable.
    I also believe, like others, that real negotiations could have taken place among proffessionals not volunteer town officials.
    Now with this $82 million dollar debt, we will be looking at whatever is voted on for the High School build or renovation.

  5. It’s especially hard when you live next door to this construction. The house shakes and our animals are stressed with the heavy equipment noise!

    • This is what happens when you buy a place next to a school.
      Every hundered years or so it is going to be torn down.

      • You have all the answers for sure! Your comment is very beneficial to those who are in the market for a home near a school.

  6. No wonder no other towns want to regionlize with us and I dont blame them one bit!
    I just wish I never left Edgartown where I grew up and moved to Vineyard Haven when I got married!!

  7. Christopher Knowles,
    I had sent a note to principal Custer last may asking about that plaque. My grandfather was on the Tisbury School building committee, his name was on it.
    I hoped I could get it, figuring no one knew or cared about it. Never heard back.
    Kathleen Tilton

    • I certainly hope the corner stone of the gym and the copper box that was in it were preserved.

      Perhaps the corner stone mentioned in the Gazette story is the granite block with “1938” chiseled into it.

      From the Gazette (clipping bears only handwritten “39”):

      “Tisbury Gym Dedicated
      Impressive Ceremony as Cornerstone Is Laid, Box Sealed Within

      . . . Mr. Luce then placed the stone.
      A copper box containing coins, souvenirs of the new San Francisco bridge, and other articles, was sealed in the corner stone. These articles were contributed by Henry A. Ritter, principal of the school, Donald Tilton, school committee member, David M. Silvia, superintendent of construction, Augustus B. Merry, clerk of the work, and various others.
      Contents of the Box
      An issue of the high school paper, a copy of the Vineyard Gazette, an excerpt from the town warrant, authorizing the building of the structure, a copy of the charter of the town of Tisbury, a town report, and a letter written by Colonel Allan L. Briggs, were among the articles place in the box. . . . “

      • I knew of the corner stone and asked about it in the same letter, thank you for bringing it to attention. Donald Tilton was my grandfather

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