I fell in love with Menemsha 35 or so years ago while reading a book I picked up at the Bunch of Grapes. An Island Summer by Walter Teller written in 1951 describes an idyllic summer he and his family spent in a house on North Road — the Paint Box — still so named today. I bought the book on my way to the ferry, and this being a very short visit to the Island with my family (our first), I didn’t get to discover Menemsha until I was back home in New York.

The following summer, when we finally got down (now I know it’s up) to the fishing village I had been dreaming about, I was as pleased and excited as I hoped I would be. Driving down the hill, the first thing that caught my eye was the market. Oh, I thought, there’s Bill Seward’s Sea-Going Grocery/ Post Office where old timers told fish stories and Bill greeted customers while sorting the mail. Teller tells of a friendly welcoming place where locals and visitors gathered to shop for provisions and catch up on the news of the day. For 96 uninterrupted years, it remained just that until an electrical fire broke out on Jan. 24, 2019. The market, though still standing, has been closed up and sealed off since that day. For the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to rent a house just a short walk form this iconic spot. It’s been heartbreaking to stand in front of what I have always considered to be the heart of Menemsha but is now just an eyesore. I sincerely hope something can be done to bring it back.

It remains unclear why rehab construction hasn’t begun. A conversation recently started up in the Facebook group “It’s a Chilmark Thing” where several members are lamenting the empty store and trying to think of ways to get it up and running again. It’s clearly an historic landmark worthy of preservation. It is the hope of year-rounders and visitors alike that the property owners, the Chilmark historical commission and perhaps the Vineyard Trust can come together to find a solution. Suggestions should be sent to any or all of them.

Susan Woodburn

New Paltz, N.Y.