Our History

Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation was officially incorporated on December 8, 1958. Henry Beetle Hough and Elizabeth Bowie Hough created Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation to conserve land that no other organization would. Henry was the Editor of the Vineyard Gazette, and he and his wife, 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 pond. In winters past, ice was cut from the frozen pond and stored in an icehouse. 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 once the Houghs had purchased the land, they found that no conservation organization wanted to own Sheriff’s Meadow, as the property was small, and close to town, and lacked an endowment. Undaunted, the Houghs created a new organization, Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, and gave the Sheriff’s Meadow to it.

Although Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation was incorporated in 1958, Henry considered 1959 to be the year of the organization’s founding. Since its founding, Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation grew through many gifts of land to become the local land trust for the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Today, Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation protects 2,900 acres of land. The Foundation owns 72 preserves totaling 2,075 acres, and holds 42 conservation restrictions over an additional 825 acres. Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation owns land in each town on the island.

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