Block Island Historical Society



Update Fall 2021

The Historical Society Museum, Gallery & Shop is located at the 4-way intersection in Old Harbor at Bridgegate Square across from the bank and Bagel Shop on the corner of Old Town Road and Ocean Ave. The historic building with cupola and red mansard roof  is the headquarters for the Society established in 1942. Originally built as a hotel in 1871 and known as the Woonsocket House, it was purchased by the Society in 1945 and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Old Harbor Historic District.

The museum staff has been updating our current exhibits and re-opened on July 3rd. The Society celebrates many years of collecting and sharing the history of the island. Prior to the Woonsocket House the location was the homesite of Gideon Rose.  The  2nd & 3rd story mansard was added and Annex building built for  additional rooms by the generations of the A. J. Rose family. The museum houses an extensive collection of  artifacts related to Block Island's history from the time of the early Manissean culture (500 BC) to maritime fishing and farming  as well as decades of  memorabilia and unique historic photographs capturing life during the Victorian age. Two floors of exhibit rooms include fine furniture, textiles, quilts, boat models, tools, fishing gear, maps, a reproduction of a Native American midden (shell heap & archaeological features), cultural belongings, oral history tapes and other interesting displays. Genealogical research and off-site history tours are available now and  by appointment this summer. See website for schedule updates. 

The Society is currently fundraising to digitize the collection. The Society created virtual museum exhibits this past year with RICH  and Roosa Fund grants that assisted with these important  projects. The Society also received grant funding from the  Champlin Foundation and the 1772 Foundation /Preserve RI to restore windows, the cupola and fabricate new storm windows during the summer/fall  of 2021. Any donations towards these projects are appreciated.  

Selected vintage images and reproductions of antique maps are available for purchase in the Museum Shop.

For group tours, genealogy research or to donate anything with Block Island related history, please contact Executive Director: Pam Gasner at (401) 864-4357 or e-mail

Old Harbor Walking Tours: By appointment off season  meet at Rebecca Statue $15/person  

Volunteers are welcome to participate in the many projects and events during the year.

Look for our website:

Memberships available. Donations Welcome!