ABOUT THE BI HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The Block Island Historical Society Museum, Gallery & Shop are all located at the 4-way intersection in Old Harbor at 18 Old Town Road/Bridgegate Square across from the bank and Bagel Shop.
The white three-story building with cupola and red mansard roof is the headquarters for the Society. The building is listed as part of the National Register Old Harbor Historic District. The museum building originally known as the Woonsocket House ca. 1871,( a hotel & annex with rooms that were rented to summer visitors up until the 1970′s ) was purchased by the Society in 1945. It was the original homestead of Gideon Rose and later rebuilt as a boarding house by A.J. Rose and family.
The museum houses an extensive collection of significant artifacts related to Block Island’s history from early Manissean stone tools and points to early New England maritime and farming displays as well as colonial memorabilia and enlarged vintage photographs capturing life during the Victorian age. Two floors of exhibit rooms include fine furniture, Victorian collectibles, textiles, quilts, boat models, tools, fishing gear, historic maps, a reproduction of a Manissean midden, oral history tapes and other interesting displays.
TOURS & EXHIBITS
Genealogical research and off-site history tours are available by appointment year round. This summer, the museum’s lead exhibit: “Block Island Idyll: Memories of Manisses” will be located in the first floor “West Gallery” room with highlights of recently accessioned items acquired from the Barbara Jones Taylor Fund, a recent fund set up to purchase objects not in the museum’s existing collection. A new special exhibit case : “100 years celebrating the Quonset” will be on display this summer, on loan from the collections of Joe Giglietti all five of his ferry models from the 1970’s will be exhibited.
Highlights in the museum include nautical charts and an early 19th century reproduction of the Dutch explorer, Adrian Block’s voyages. One video monitor, located in the North Ell Gallery shows movies and slide shows depicting island scenes taken over 100 years ago. Selected images are available for purchase in the Museum Shop. A special educational sword fishing program is available by appointment or during group tours. Off site history tours also available.