Featured Property: The Blackburn Home
Imagine waking up to rays of sunshine streaming in through open windows, and then looking out those windows to green hilltops, a blooming backyard garden and ocean views.
“Nothing beats that view,” said Marie Blackburn, describing her property located off Spring Street, on Block Island. After waking up to a breathtaking sunrise, Marie would then head to the beach for a morning stroll.
“That’s a great way to start your day,” said Marie. “By the time I would get back, someone would have breakfast ready to serve.”
Marie’s house has been specifically designed to be an ideal beach home and a family vacation getaway, and she did renovations to meet these very purposes. She said she wanted to make sure that it would “not be a replication of a mainland house. I wanted it to be a house that was comfortable for everyone.”
A large pantry in the kitchen can hold enough food for a whole party — “the usual Block Island stock-up on groceries,” Marie explained — and ample dining room space allows many guests to enjoy meals such as lobster feasts.
There were plenty of couches with pull-out beds to sleep on, because it wasn’t uncommon to have families visiting with two or three children staying the night. The house even slept around 10 people one night, after Marie hosted her son’s wedding reception on-island and had some guests sleep over.
“It became like a dormitory during the time that I was there,” said Marie. “We would sleep there, we would eat meals there, and we would be out doing things all day.”
Children that are now grown-up have good memories of Block Island summers, beaches and outdoor showers. “No one was ever allowed in the house after the beach without going to the outdoor shower,” said Marie, who added that this kept the hardwood floors in good condition.
While on nice days beach excursions were common, on rainy days guests could sprawl out, play board games and read books. Meanwhile, Marie often would do her work from home. One of her favorite things about the place, she said, was its “sense of peacefulness and restfulness.”
Adding to the serene atmosphere is the nature surrounding the property, such as a flower and vegetable garden. In addition, an adjoining lot to the property is conserved land, meaning that it’s preserved to be open space, allowing plenty of land to bird-watch. “You can look at nature in its wild condition,” said Marie. “Virtually nothing is built in my viewshed.”
While the land remains unchanged, the house has a rich history of changes. Originally, it was a one-story cabin that had burned down in 1880. Eventually, families living in the cabin began performing renovations, adding a loft, a living room and bedroom upstairs. And the stairs, too, were added on, imported from a Long Island railway substation.
“They carried them, one step at a time, over from the New London ferry,” said Marie.
And once Marie purchased the property, she too began adding on to it: new windows, an expanded bathroom and a new garden. “As a result, I think the workers that were doing this work became a part of the family. That was one of the delightful parts,” remarked Marie, adding, “Guests always pitched in to do what needed to be done.”
Marie bought the house in 1997, and moved there permanently in 2000, relocating all the way from Minnesota. “I had stayed on Block Island for so many years, I really needed to look at properties,” she explained. “I thought it was kind of a dream, but it came true.”
But now, the dream must come to an end. Marie said it’s time to move to the other side of the country, where she can be closer to family again — despite the pleas from Marie’s 5-year old granddaughter, who asks about the house every time Marie talks to her on the phone.
“There’s a sense of nostalgia,” said Marie about the house. “It is a place of solitude.”
The Blackburn property is listed at $895,000. For information contact Sullivan Real Estate at (401) 466-5521 or www.sullivanbi.com.