John Ames Steffian, 1933 - 2022

Fri, 08/19/2022 - 3:30pm

John Ames Steffian, 1933 to 2022, was a Block Island (mostly) summer resident from 1969 to 1990. John was an innovative architect, professor and mentor, who spent most of his life designing and teaching the value of architecture as a bridge between art and design.

He and his family first came to Block Island in the early 1960s and made a home in what was known as the Anderson Cottages on Spring Street. In the late 1980s, hoping to trade their house for land, John sought out a piece of property from the conservancy that had three existing barns. It was his dream to design each building with a specific use, where his family could live, work, and sleep, surrounded by the natural beauty of island fields and trees.

During an outing to survey the property, John suffered a heart attack and had to be airlifted to the Westerly Hospital. This health scare changed his views of living on the island and as a result, decided to sell the house and donate the money to help build what is now the medical center.

In the summer of 2020, during gale force winds, I suffered from appendicitis and had my first visit to the medical center. Upon entering the lobby I noticed a small sign that mentioned my parents’ generosity. Although I was unable to leave the island that night, without the knowledgeable nurse on duty, pain medication and the access to medical services off island, my situation may have developed into something far worse.

Block Island was my father’s haven and I continue his dream by owning a property with a small house and two outbuildings. Each time I come, I think of him and my mother, Sarah Steffian (1931 to 2017) and their gift to me and the island community.