Block Island Historical Society


The Historical Society Museum, Gallery & Shop is located at the 4-way intersection in Old Harbor at Bridgegate Square across from the bank and Bagel Shop on the corner of Old Town Road and Ocean Ave. The historic building with cupola and red mansard roof  is the headquarters for the Society established in 1942. Originally built as a hotel in 1871 and known as the Woonsocket House, it was purchased by the Society in 1945 and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Old Harbor Historic District.

The museum is celebrating 76 years of collecting and sharing the history of the island with a special exhibit “Surrounded by Sea”. Prior to the hotel the location was the homesite of Gideon Rose and rebuilt as a hotel by the A. J. Rose family. The museum houses an extensive collection of  artifacts related to Block Island's history from the time of the early Manissean settlement (500 BC) to maritime fishing and farming  as well as colonial memorabilia and unique historic photographs capturing life during the Victorian age. Two floors of exhibit rooms include fine furniture, textiles, quilts, boat models, tools, fishing gear, maps, a reproduction of a Native American  midden (shell heap & archaeological features), oral history tapes and other interesting displays. Genealogical research and off-site history tours available by appointment year round.

The Summer 2018 lead exhibit: "Surrounded by Sea" will be located in four newly renovated gallery rooms on the first and second floors.

The Society is currently fundraising to complete Phase IV of the building's restoration project with a $75,000 grant from the Champlin Foundation dedicated to restoring the West Gallery.  

Selected vintage images  and reproductions of antique maps are available for purchase in the Museum Shop.

A special history of sword fishing presentation is available to book by appointment.
For group tours, genealogy research or to donate anything with Block Island related history, please contact Executive Director: Pam Gasner at (401) 864-4357 or e-mail

Volunteers are welcome to participate in the many projects and events during the year.

Look for our new website:

Open daily starting Memorial Day weekend: 5/24, 11am - 4pm

Spring & Fall weekends. By appointment on weekdays please call 401-466-2481.

Admission: $10 per adult; $8 seniors; $5 students (K-College). Members free. Guided tours $10/person.

Special off-site historical tours by appointment. Group tours are available for schools, scouts and other community organizations. 

Memberships available. Donations Welcome!

  • Phone: 
    (401) 864-4357
    Box 79
    18 Old Town Rd
    Block Island  Rhode Island  02807