On the corner of... the old Adrian Hotel
Ed. note: The Block Island Historical Society was founded in 1942. To help celebrate its 75th year, the Society’s Diamond Anniversary, The Block Island Times will be publishing sketches and photographs of items in its collection. For those interested in joining or donating to The Block Island Historical Society, please visit blockislandhistorical.org.
It was from the will of Lucretia Mott Ball that the Historical Society was born, the Harbor Church gained its present building, then the elegant Adrian Hotel, and the first green space on Block Island, the Nathan Mott Park, was established. It contained bequests to various charitable organizations here and in Indiana, created trusts to fund projects, and included provisions for perpetual care of certain grave sites.
Threaded though the document is a name no longer familiar to most, Karl Suckow, the husband of Beatrice, Lucretia's daughter who pre-deceased her. Karl was from Indiana, he and his wife had no children, and he determined not to exercise the life-long interests he was bequeathed in what much have seemed an odd, water-logged place.
One interest was use of the Adrian Hotel for the “term of his natural life.” He signed off all interest in the hotel, which was bequeathed to the Church, an act for which he is memorialized on the large stained glass window in the Church. The section of Lucretia's will leaving personal property to an historical institution included an exception “but my son-in-law is to have the use of Nathan Mott's desk so long as he shall desire and thereafter it shall become part... ” of that collection.
Today, we can see traces of the grandeur that was the Adrian, in the clam shell decorations in the high gable on the east and west ends of the original structure, in the tower with its sculptured shingling, and in the stained-glass edged window insets in the windows of the narthex and parlor. It was a building belonging to a sub-set of the boom of the late 1800s, with far more detail than the larger mansards, windows like those in the original Hygeia, the tower replicated in a handful of grand private homes.
Nathan, Lucretia's father, was proprietor of a 50-plus acre farm, then he came to town to conduct business from his gracious hotel overlooking the newly busy harbor. It is not difficult to imagine him sitting at his beautiful desk, when “organizers” were not additions to, rather they were incorporated into beautiful prices of furniture.