Penikese Island is 75 magnificent acres of wind-swept beauty. A safe, serene and remote environment, the calming island setting is an extraordinary resource ideally suited for healing.
The island belongs to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife as a bird sanctuary, with a focus on providing safe nesting ground for endangered terns and other seabirds. Penikese Island School operates on the island under the terms of an agreement with the Commonwealth that goes back to 1973. The School’s rustic buildings are the only functioning structures on the island and are located on the east-facing shore.
Before Europeans settled in our area, Penikese was the site of a summer fishing camp for the local Wampanoag indians.
For a few years in the 1870s the Anderson School operated a marine biological institution, which was the precursor to the renowned Marine Biological Laboratory located in Woods Hole (mbl.edu).
From 1904 to 1921 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts operated a leper colony on Penikese, in an attempt to keep those with the disease away from the healthy population. A number of the leprosy victims are buried in a cemetery at the north end of the island.