Henry Beetle Hough and Elizabeth Bowie Hough founded Sheriff's Meadow Foundation to conserve land that no other organization would. Editor of the Vineyard Gazette, Henry and Elizabeth lived on Pierce Lane in Edgartown. From the north window of their living room, the Houghs gazed at a field known as the Sheriff's Meadow and a small ice pond. In winters past, ice was cut from the frozen pond and stored in an icehouse. Yet with the advent of electric refrigerators, the icehouse became irrelevant, and rumors swirled that Sheriff’s Meadow would be developed.
The Houghs decided to buy Sheriff's Meadow and conserve it. Some years later, Mr. Hough recalled, "I had $7,500 from magazine rights from the Women's Home Companion for a book. It was the only time I ever had $7,500 at one time, so we decided to preserve the ice pond and its surroundings." Yet while the Houghs were prepared to buy the land, none of the existing conservation groups wished to accept it. Undaunted, the Houghs created a conservation organization: Sheriff's Meadow Foundation. Named after this first property, Sheriff's Meadow Foundation was formally chartered on April 2, 1959.
Sheriff's Meadow Foundation grew. Borrowing $6,000, the Houghs bought additional acreage around Sheriff’s Meadow and the pond. With 50 years of aid, interest, generous financial support and generous donations of land from many, many people, Sheriff's Meadow Foundation has become what it is today. Today, Sheriff's Meadow Foundation owns over 2,000 acres of conservation land and holds conservation restrictions on over 850 acres. Properties range in size from less than a quarter-acre to more than four hundred acres. Properties are located in each of the island towns, and the larger properties host over ten miles of public walking trails.
Overseen by a Board of Directors, Sheriff's Meadow Foundation now employs four year-round and three seasonal staff. The Foundation's properties represent all of the major Martha's Vineyard habitats: beaches, sand dunes, coastal ponds, wooded moraine, forests, swamps, marshes, agricultural lands, meadows and more. Self-guided nature walks, visitor kiosks with maps, new and expanded trails, bike racks and parking areas have been added to a number of the properties in the last 10 years. Sheriff's Meadow welcomes you to enjoy our many sanctuaries and to join us in our mission of conserving natural, beautiful, rural landscape and character of Martha's Vineyard for present and future generations.
| Henry Hough at the Gazette office
Cedar Tree Neck, West Tisbury
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