The Historic and Architectural Resources of Block Island, Rhode Island and Preserving the Architectural Heritage of Block Island Program (2007) are the two sources the Preservation Plaque Project would like you to use to identify your historic home. Once you know your Plat and Lot numbers it is easy to find your house.
If your historic home is not listed we would be happy to help you access information on your home. Those records are made available at the Town Hall. For a very reasonable sum of $50, Scenic Block Island will do the research for you an provide a detailed report for you records
Please read the following text, it will help you to understand the process of looking up your building’s history before going to the Town Hall. Go to the window of the Town Clerk and they will assist you.
Using the Tax records to research previous owners:
The Tax Assessor’s records at Town Hall are filed by Plat and Lot. Previous owners are listed sequentially in the property file. Because buildings have tax value, the Assessors records include information about building size, age and condition. Although the records go back only about 40 years, they are a great place to begin.
Using Land Evidence Records to research previous owners:
Deeds are concerned with ownership and property boundaries and typically have no information about buildings. Our records are not digitized; you must do your research at Town Hall.
A deed contains the seller’s name(s) [“Grantor”], the buyer’s name(s) [“Grantee”] and a property description. Buyer’s names are listed alphabetically in Grantee Index along with the seller’s name, date, and the location of the deed in the vault. You can use the Grantee Index to find the prior owners of your property.
To search for previous owners of your property:
- Find your name in the Grantee Index (as purchaser). Note the Grantor (call her “Jones”) and a book and page number. Retrieve the deed and read the property description. This is your deed; Jones’ sale to you.
- To find who owned the property before Jones, look up Jones in the Grantee Index. Note the name of the Grantor in the transaction (call them Island Flippers, Inc.) That’s the deed when Island Flippers sold to Jones.
- Keep going – find out who sold to Island Flippers by looking up Island Flippers alphabetically in the Grantee Index, under “I” and noting the seller. Continue your research back through time.
- Write down the information as you find it: buyer, seller, date, book and page
- Read property descriptions and refer to maps as you work. You own a small piece of a formerly large property and the description may turn into a word puzzle.
- Prior to 2000, property could be transferred through probate without recording a deed.
Using Tax Books
By now you have a list of owners and the dates they were in possession, but very few records of any buildings. You can research property owners in tax books going back to about 1900 to see whether taxes were assessed for buildings.
This is just the beginning. Learn more about the Preservation Plaque Program within the links below. And if you own a historic building on Block Island, please apply to get your own plaque.
Have you received notice from SBI that your building has been approved for a preservation plaque?
It’s time to take the last step and purchase your plaque. Just click the button below to be taken to the plaque purchase page.