The Trustees Accept Gift of Historic Chilmark Brickyard from Long Time Island Resident Flora Epstein

Contact Information

Margaret Carroll-Bergman
Public Relations & Outreach Coordinator, Southeast

Chilmark, MAJuly 25, 2014 – The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) the nation’s oldest regional land trust and one of Massachusetts’ largest conservation and preservation organizations, is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of an important Martha’s Vineyard landmark, the Brickyard in Chilmark, a gift from the estate of Mrs. Flora Epstein.

Mrs. Epstein, a long time resident whose family ties to the island goes back generations, passed away in 2010 generously leaving the Trustees the 18-acre historic property that adjoins the Trustees’ scenic Menemsha Hills Reservation. The site is historically significant, having served as the first commercial brickyard in New England, in operation from 1642 throughout the late 1800s. The clay deposits on the property are among the oldest soil found in the northeast, dating back 140 million years. By comparison, 99% of the Vineyard’s surface soils are less than 10,000 years old. The clay was used to manufacture the highly sought after bricks that were shipped to Boston, New York and Newport to help build these great American cities.

“It is through the generosity of prescient donors like Ms. Epstein and her family that The Trustees can help to preserve irreplaceable historic and archeologically significant Massachusetts landscapes like the Brickyard for everyone, forever,” said Barbara Erickson, Trustees’ President & CEO.

Mrs. Epstein contributed $60,000 to The Trustees in 2005 to establish a start-up endowment for the preservation of the Brickyard. The gift was realized in 2010 shortly after her death. The Trustees have gratefully received a temporary easement from Mrs. Epstein’s family, owners of the abutting property, so crews can access the property and begin making important safety and public access improvements. Priority projects will include erecting safety fencing around the industrial remnants and creating walking trails for the public.
“We are honored to be entrusted with preserving and protecting the legacy of this important site and to be able to link it to our current Menemsha Hills Reservation,” says Christopher Kennedy, Trustees’ Martha’s Vineyard Superintendent. “We look forward to creating many opportunities for islanders and tourists to visit the property and learn more about its important place in our cultural, and geological history.”
The Trustees expect the Brickyard to be open to the public during the summer of 2015, after a property plan has been established for the site.

About The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) “hold in trust” and care for properties, or “reservations,” of irreplaceable scenic, cultural, and natural significance for the general public to enjoy. Founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees is the world’s oldest regional land trust and one of Massachusetts’ largest conservation and preservation non profits. Supported by more than 100,000 members and donors and thousands of volunteers, The Trustees own and manage 112 spectacular reservations including working farms, historic homesteads and landscaped gardens, community parks, barrier beaches, mountain vistas and woodland trials located on more than 26,000 acres throughout the Commonwealth. An established leader in the conservation and preservation movement and worldwide, The Trustees have also worked with community partners to protect an additional 34,000 acres. With hundreds of outreach programs, workshops, camps, concerts and events annually designed to engage all ages in its mission, The Trustees invite you to Find Your Place and get out and experience the natural beauty and culture our state has to offer. For more information, visit: