59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum

EOD2015

1880s–1890s

Unknown maker

Chappaquiddick

Wood, metal, paint

Gift of William P. Silva


This door was removed from a fisherman's shack built in Chappaquiddick and later moved to Edgartown. Once common sights along the shores of Martha's Vineyard, these shacks held fishing supplies and offered shelter. But this one is unusual because part of it survives, along with writing that offers a glimpse into the concerns of the man or men who used it.

A large pencil drawing of a fish dominates the bottom half of the door, while notes in pencil and paint over the whole interior surface record events that occurred over the course of about a decade beginning with the March 22, 1885, inscription in red: "The Harbor Frozen Over to Cape Poge—Vessels being unable to get in or out. Man seen walking on ice." A later note in pencil tells of the first yacht sighted in the harbor on May 12, 1886.

But by far the most common subject is the weather. Bad weather in particular is often noted and dated. "Hard Storm—South Beach broken open in January 1886 for the first time in 30 years." "Terrible Weather." "1889 Sept 9 BIG BLOW."