Polly Hill Arboretum acquires staff housing

There is potential for a third house in the future. 

Polly Hill Arboretum's housing, which will be landscaped with native plants, shown in May. —Courtesy Polly Hill Arboretum

Polly Hill Arboretum announced that it is adding two new homes to support staff housing.

The organization is celebrating the completion of the project with an event on Friday, June 30, from 1 to 3 pm. 

According to a release, the arboretum has been developing a strategy since 2019 to address the “shortage of affordable housing that threatens the ability to attract, hire, and retain qualified and essential personnel.” 

Polly Hill Arboretum outreach coordinator Erin Hepfner said the organization got to this stage “after years of planning and fundraising.” The arboretum broke ground last August; one house is completed, and the other will be finished by mid-July. 

Executive director Tim Boland said both houses are just over 1,000 square feet, and are two-bedroom houses. 

Boland said the organization needed approval from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. A conservation restriction was placed on the 60-acre property in 1998. After a series of talks, a small parcel was allowed for staff housing under the stipulation that it will contribute to the long-term maintenance of the arboretum’s property and natural resources. 

Boland said he’s excited that staff will be able to occupy the homes soon. He said a major consideration by the arboretum’s team was how to steward the property without staff housing.

“It’s the No. 1 issue … for everybody,” Boland said. “We’re really pleased we’re near completion, and we’ve been successful.”

According to a “case statement” by the arboretum, the houses are meant to be “transitional housing” that will serve multiple needs over a long period of time. Some possible uses included housing for newly hired staff moving to Martha’s Vineyard, current staff members who lose housing, and more. 

Additionally, according to the case statement, there is potential for the construction of a third dwelling if the organization can successfully demonstrate meeting the department’s guidelines and “further need for staff housing.” 

Parking for Friday’s event is available at the arboretum’s visitor center on 795 State Road in West Tisbury.


  1. Polly Hil is such a wonderful asset to the island, I am most grateful and inspired at their dedication and achievements.

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