Chilmark, Massachusetts

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Chilmark is a town located on Martha's Vineyard in Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 843 at the 2000 census. The fishing village of Menemsha is located on the northern end of town along its border with the neighboring town of Aquinnah. In 2005 it was confirmed to have the highest average property value of any city or town in Massachusetts.

Contents

History

Chilmark was first settled in 1660 by James Allen, William Peabody and Lt. Josiah Standish (son of Captain Myles Standish) in the southern portion of Tisbury. The town officially incorporated on September 14, 1694, the first town to separate from the two original towns of Tisbury and Edgartown. Chilmark was named for the ancestral home of the family of Governor Thomas Mayhew in Tisbury, Wiltshire, England.

The town was once known for its unusually high percentage of deaf citizens. In 1854, Chilmark had a deaf population of one in every 25 people, while the national average was one deaf person in 5728. (See Martha's Vineyard Sign Language.) Today the town is mostly residential, with a small working harbor along the Vineyard Sound side of the town.

In August 2009 and 2010, President Barack Obama and his family vacationed in Chilmark, renting the Blue Heron Farm.[1][2]

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 100.4 square miles (260.1 km²), of which, 19.1 square miles (49.6 km²) of it is land and 81.3 square miles (210.5 km²) of it (80.94%) is water. Chilmark ranks 192nd of the 351 communities in the Commonwealth in terms of land area. Chilmark is bordered by Vineyard Sound to the northeast, West Tisbury to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the south and Aquinnah to the southwest.

The town includes the island of Noman's Land, which lies southwest of Martha's Vineyard. Because of the island, the town is officially the second most southerly point in Massachusetts (the south shore of Nantucket is approximately a kilometer south of the southernmost point on Noman's Land). Chilmark has a series of small ponds along the Atlantic side of the town, and it shares Tisbury Great Pond to the east and Menemsha Pond and Squibnocket Pond to the southwest, along the Aquinnah town line. It is between these two ponds, which are 1,100 feet (340 m) apart at their closest point, that the only road to Aquinnah passes. (There is a beach along the southern side of Squibnecket Pond which also connects the towns; however, the strip of land is frequently washed out.) Chilmark also has the highest point on Martha's Vineyard, at 311-foot-tall (95 m) Peaked Hill.

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