2018 Block Island House Tour

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 5:30am

The following was submitted by the Historical Society:

This year’s Historical Society House and Garden tour is set for Thursday, Aug. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature six historic, modern, and beautiful locations on Corn Neck Road. 

The tour includes properties along Corn Neck Road. Sites may be visited in any order.

Here are a few guidelines:

Please remove your shoes upon entry.

Do not drive into the laneways as all homes are within walking distance from the paved road.

A jitney will be provided going back and forth to and from the main highway.

Please try to carpool

Lemonade will be served by “Muscrat Run” Garden ( #6)

The locations featured this year are:

The Risom House; 1967

An internationally famous expression of late 60s architectural modernism, Jens Risom’s informal A-frame seaside cottage has a spectacular glass front wall and a perfectly preserved Danish interior. Featured on many magazine covers, including an article in LIFE magazine in 1967, the house has many design features — an expanded deck, open floor plan and easy compact kitchen — that became the standard in beach house design for decades to come. The use of color throughout the house is notable for the warmth and personality it brings to the otherwise rough wood walls and framing.

Please park at the turn around  or Settler’ Rock parking area and along Corn Neck Road.

Green Gully Garden, Organic Farmer: Kathryn Helterline; 2017

Kathryn studied natural resources and ecology at the University of Vermont, after attending the Block Island School and growing up appreciating nature and the conservation ethic. College gave her experience in plant ecology, soil science, and our unsustainable food system.  She became especially interested in farming during her time there because of the many options for local and organic food, whether it was at the grocery store or at farmers markets. 

In the years after graduating, she worked on various farms practicing organic methods and permaculture, which focuses on creating a sustainable system where agriculture, community, and the earth all thrive simultaneously. 

She started Green Gully Gardens on her family's land in 2017, although it had been in her mind since the summer of 2013.  She wanted to work for herself and learn more by running her own operation. She chose the name because the gardens are located north of Clayhead, where there is a place in the maze nearby that is historically referred to as “The Green Gully.” It seemed fitting because the gardens are in a hollow. Kathryn farms a half an acre which is either a very large garden ora small vegetable farm and a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding work. She sells her produce at the local Farmers’ Market

Please park along Corn Neck Road, Hodge parking area and  walk up driveway.

Capt. Benjamin F. Gardner House, “The Red House” - 1884 

and New Barn  - 2016

The historic red house at the entrance to the maze was built in 1884 by Capt. Benjamin Gardner and his wife Mary ‘Louisa’ Littlefield on land purchased and divided with one of her brothers Irving Littlefield, divided from the Josiah Peckham Farm. Gardner was the Captain of the first permanent Block Island steamer, The George W. Danielson, built in 1880. Livermore’s History book describes her first trip from Block Island to Newport and Providence on June 15, 1880 as “ one of the great events of the island when she took the place of the island schooners and of the frail masted open boats…” They owned the home until 1898 when Benjamin's work as captain of the steamer moved them to Jamestown. In all the years that followed, only five other families have owned the home, while preserving the charm of a bygone era.

The house is where the O’Leary family has summered since 2006. Notable features of the house are the carved bargeboard, trim on the gables, roof and porch. Behind the little red house, a new gathering place for a growing family takes the shape of a simple barn with views of Irving’s Pond. The first floor of the new structure was finished in 2017.  It has an open plan with a kitchen that faces the red house. 

The house is currently featured in New England Magazine. 

Interior Designer:  Jill O’Shea and local builder Mark Kildea of Stix Man Construction.

Capt. Amazon Littlefield House, 1889

This beautiful Queen Anne painted wooden house with hand-beaded clapboards is an icon on Corn Neck Road, across the street from the red house and the entrance to Clayhead Trail. The interior and exterior details  have been lovingly restored and furnished by the current owners, a group of architects and designers. The house features the Masonic sun and moon symbols carved into the peak as well as a converted attic that is now a magical sleeping loft for children. 

Mitchell Cottage: pre-1850

No information provided by press time, but you know the house.

Voorhees; 1985, remodeled 2014; Walled Garden - 1997

Designed and built by the owner, this updated interpretation of a classic gambrel roof barn, the house lies off the Georgian Swamp or Mott’s Pond near Mitchell Farm. 

Features include spacious rooms decorated with classic island artists’ artwork, an open kitchen, and an ingenious architectural outdoor shower.

 Adjacent to the house is “Muskrat Run,” a walled Italianate garden featuring a beautiful wild and cultivated flower garden, vegetable beds, an historic fountain and a charming pergola and potting shed. Lemonade will be served under the pergola at this stop.

Historical Society West Gallery Restoration Project

Dan McLaughlin and crew will answer questions about the renovation project underway on the west side of the historic Woonsocket House Museum building.