Gosnold, Massachusetts is one of eight towns in Massachusetts that are located on islands. Gosnold is located on the Elizabeth Islands, which is a chain of a dozen islands running westward from Woods Hole between Buzzard’s Bay and Vineyard Sound. The majority of the residents live in the village of Cuttyhunk. Gosnold has the notoriety of being the smallest town in Massachusetts with the 2010 census reporting a population of 52 people in 2010. Despite having a population of 52 there are 120 registered voters. Gosnold and is approximately 62 miles southwest of Boston. Gosnold is part of Dukes County, which consists of 7 towns. According to the Census Bureau, Gosnold has a total area of 132.24 acres with a land area of 13.3 square miles.
(History information from Mass.Gov)
In 1602 Bartholomew Gosnold made landfall at Cuttyhunk, one of the larger islands, and gave the Elizabeth Islands group its name. The history of Gosnold also differs from other cities and towns, since the clustered chunks of land were so small they were usually not named separately in the grants and sales of the properties of the New World, but changed owners attached to one or another vast holding. The islands were under the control of the Dutch in New York until 1691 when they passed by charter into the hands of the English of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1688 a permanent settler in Gosnold, Ralph Earle Jr., built his house, the first of a small, hardy island population, while Captain Kidd anchored in one of Gosnold’s harbors in 1699 just before he was captured for piracy. Succeeding owners like Major General Wait Steel Winthrop and James Bowdoin of Boston developed their property as a country estate, stocking it with deer and turkeys. In 1759, one of the earliest lighthouses was built on Naushon at Tarpaulin Cove and six years later, a light was built on Cuttyhunk to warn of the disastrous reefs near the islands.
Residents of the islands fought for almost two centuries to become independent of the Town of Chilmark to which they were attached. In 1863,the 16 legal voters of Gosnold claimed they were not being fairly represented and finally succeeded in getting permission to establish an autonomous town. Many of the islands have had a relatively uneventful history, as Naushon Island shows. In all of its history, Naushon has only been owned by three families; the Winthrops were proprietors for 48 years,the Bowdoins for 115 years and the Forbes for 147 years have been Masters of Naushon. A life saving station was established and commissioned in 1890 on Cuttyhunk to try to save those shipwrecked. Also on Cuttyhunk, a round tower built of stone with a set of circular steps and a look-out deck marks the 300th anniversary of Gosnold’s discovery. Still peaceful and windswept, Gosnold shelters yachtsmen cruising the waters of Vineyard Sound or Buzzard’s Bay, provides summer homes to some and year-round homes to a handful as one of the smallest communities in the Commonwealth.
Form of Government
Board of Selectmen
Open Town Meeting
As a town: 1864
Understanding Tax and Town Hall Information
Each State, and often town have variations in how they handle taxes, records and town/county functions.
Tax Information – Massachusetts General Laws require towns and cities to assess all property at its full and fair cash value as of January 1 of each year (, Chapter 59, Section 38). The assessed value for the Fiscal Year 2013 tax bill represents the fair cash value of property as of January 1, 2012. Full and fair cash value is defined as the price an owner willing, but not under compulsion, to sell ought to receive from a buyer willing, but not under compulsion, to purchase. Massachusetts statutes further requires that all cities and towns complete a revaluation and undergo certification by the Department of Revenue every three years. Gosnold is one of a few towns in Massachusetts that has not reported its mill rate for the 2014 fiscal year as of the date of this article.
Town Hall Information – As can be expected for a town of its size, Gosnold provides very limited online information. It is one of two towns in Dukes County not to be part of http://www.caigisonline.com/ which provides GIS and property cards online. However, property cards are available via Vision Appraisal, the revaluation company servicing Gosnold. However, according to Visions list of Massachusetts towns the Gosnold property site has not been updated since 11/21/2011. The GIS link is to Oliver, which is the State of Massachusetts online GIS. Links to Tax Collector and Zoning Regulations are links to the webpages for those two departments, which were under construction at the time of this article. The town hall is located at 28 Tower Hill Road, Cuttyhunk, Island, MA 02713.
Gosnold Tax Information
|Current Grand List Year||2012|
|Mill Rate Residential||2.25|
|Mill Rate Commercial, Industrial||2.25|
Gosnold Town Hall Information
|Gosnold Tax Assessor||(508) 990-7408||Gosnold property records online|
|Gosnold City Clerk||(508) 990-7408||Gosnold land records online|
|Gosnold Tax Collector||(508) 990-7408||Gosnold Finance Committee|
|Gosnold Mapping / GIS||N/A||Oliver GIS viewer|
|Gosnold Planning & Zoning||(508) 990-7408||Planning Board|
|Gosnold Schools||N/A||Gosnold Schools|
|Gosnold Crime Rate||N/A||Gosnold Crime Rate|