The year was 1879 and John Dodge finally moved into his dream house on Beacon Hill. It was beautifully designed and lovingly built especially for his family. One hundred nine years later, Andy and Hillary Transue found and fell in love with this typical single-family Block Island house with its mansard roof and four bedrooms – just enough room for them and their children, Bain and Carris. They lived there for the first six years of Bain’s life and then sold it when they all moved to the mainland.
Bain never forgot the house in which he spent those first years and dreamed that one day he would live there when he had his own family. That day happened in mid-2020 when Bain, his wife Kaylan and their three boys, Jameson, Mac and Colman moved into Bain’s boyhood home to complete the end of one dream and the beginning of another.
Scenic Block Island, a 501-c-3 not-for profit corporation was formed in 1993 to preserve the character, history, charm and uniqueness of Block Island. In 2019 SBI created the Preservation Plaque Program to honor historic homes and buildings and their caretakers with a handmade 11½” by 16” oval plaque listing the date built and the original owner’s name. Bain and Kay Transue’s family recently received the one hundredth plaque from Cindy Lasser, a member of the Board of Directors of Scenic Block Island and the program’s director. Lasser mentioned that there are certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify for a plaque, chief among them that the building must be at least 50% original on the outside and have survived the 1938 Hurricane. She emphasized that, unlike the Federal designation, there are no other restrictions.
Scenic Block Island’s Preservation Plaque Program has been designed to increase the awareness of those Block Island buildings that make up the fabric of the Island’s history. Each plaque takes the reader back in time to the original owner and date the building was completed and allows us to consider what it has taken to survive the generations of change and the effects of Block Island’s weather. And, in doing so, it highlights the commitment and pride of ownership through the years.
Researching one’s home can be a great journey for the owner and family but knowing where and how to access the critical documents can be a daunting task. Scenic Block Island’s involvement makes the process extremely easy. Click on www.scenicblockisland.org/about-sbi/preservation-plaques and simply navigate around the pages of information on the Preservation Plaque Program to find more interesting pages to help you determine if you at least have a building that occupies a space in either of the two “official” documents that deal with the subject. Even though much of the information is out of date, it is great fun to see how many historic houses are right next door or down the road.
First-time and repeat visitors and Island residents alike are smitten by the fact that there is simply nowhere else like Block Island. Stepping off the ferry you journey back in time and there is a sense of serenity that comes from the dramatic views, historic hotels, modest farmhouses, rolling hills, ocean views, hidden ponds, beaches, walking trails and stone walls.
Many of those same people often mention the well-cared for historic buildings that are so visible throughout the Island. If you have one of those homes or just think you may have, enjoy doing some research or let Scenic Block Island help you on your voyage to an official Preservation Plaque.