Renovations in 2003 to
support and secure
the Tabernacle's foundation
Renovation of the Tabernacle 2007-08
Details of the Renovation
Removing the 1929 the Cross
Instaling the New Cross - April 2008
The Tabernacle is the physical and spiritual center of the Campground. It was
built in 1879 by John W. Hoyt of Springfield, Massachusetts. Church services
are held weekly in the Tabernacle during the months of July and August, and a variety of
cultural events are held there each summer. The first event of the season is
the graduation ceremonies of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.
Architecturally, the Tabernacle is a unique structure, with wrought iron arches and
supports, two clerestories with dozens of colored glass windows, and an octagonal
cupola. In 1979, on the Centennial of the Tabernacle, the MVCMA was added to
the National Register of Historic Places. In 2000, the Tabernacle was
designated as an official project of "Save America's Treasures."
From the first campmeeting in 1835 until 1859, ministers preached from a crudely
constructed stand. In 1859, Perez Mason built a larger and more esthetically
pleasing preachers' stand. It was large enough to seat 30, and it included
lattice screen supports, movable rear shutters for ventilation, and a roof that was angled
to amplify the voice of the speaker. Seating for congregations of up to 4,000
was constructed during that period.
In 1869, a huge tent was raised over Wesleyan Grove to protect the congregation from the
heat and the rain. The tent was used each season until the erection of the
current iron Tabernacle in 1879.
In 1999 a major fundraising campaign was undertaken to restore the Tabernacle to its full
grandeur, to upgrade utilities, including sound and lighting systems, and to preserve the
structural integrity of the building.
Contributions to the restoration fund can be made to MVCMA Tabernacle Restoration Fund,
P.O. Box 367, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. The MVCMA Tabernacle Restoration Fund is a
501(c)(3) charitable organization.