Two groups receive $1.25 million each

From Deepwater Wind
Fri, 12/30/2016 - 10:15am

The Block Island Historical Society and the Southeast Lighthouse Foundation have announced the receipt of $1.25 million each from Deepwater Wind, LLC to expand historic preservation and tourism efforts on Block Island.

Due to the fact that the construction of the Block Island Wind Farm, located off the southeast coast of Block Island, required federal permits, it was subject to evaluation under Section 106 [of the National Historic Preservation Act]. According to the press release, “Federal law requires heightened scrutiny of impacts to National Historic Landmarks... Because the turbines impacted the historic visual setting of the Southeast Lighthouse and other historic properties on the island, and those impacts cannot be directly mitigated, Deepwater Wind offered funding for other historic preservation projects and heritage tourism promotion as an offset.”

“By celebrating our community’s centuries of history, we enrich the lives of all who live and visit here,” said the Historical Society’s President Bob Champagne-Willis. “In accepting this funding, we will be further enabled to honor the contributions of the Manisseans, fishermen, farmers, and Block Islanders who have created this unique and culturally rich island community.”

The Block Island Historical Society was founded in 1942, and “has been a steward of the island’s historic past, and maintains a growing collection of its material culture,” according to the release. “It operates from the historic Woonsocket House Museum in the Old Harbor Historic District, which also serves as a popular community gathering point. It presents annual exhibits in its museum space, ranging from Block Island’s prehistoric period to the era of World War II. The Society will invest the new funding in expanding its educational mission and maintaining its historic headquarters.”

The Southeast Lighthouse Foundation was founded in 1986 as an independent nonprofit organization with the goal of rescuing the Southeast Lighthouse from its endangered position near the eroding Mohegan Bluffs on the island’s southern coast. The lighthouse was moved back from the bluff’s edge in 1993, capping a 10-year project that required three acts of Congress and a budget of $2 million.

According to the press release, some of the funding will be used to help restore the Southeast Lighthouse, “an iconic symbol of Block Island and the state of Rhode Island. There is a projected total cost of $2.9 million for the lighthouse and grounds to be able to fully host visitors. The Deepwater Wind funding will provide a down-payment for this effort. The Foundation will also pursue an endowment of $2 million to provide funds for ongoing educational programming and long-term maintenance of the historic Victorian building.”

Dr. Gerald Abbott, president of the Southeast Light Foundation, said: “People come from around the world to enjoy the Block Island experience and learn of its unique history. The island’s sweeping land and seascapes complement its historic architecture. Our local and regional economies are strengthened when we invest in those resources; and, our children learn to appreciate the events and experiences that have shaped our community.”