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A Short History of Scenic Block Island
and Its Contributions

Scenic Block Island emerged from a coalition of several island organizations in 1993 to fight the proposed building of twelve houses on the lawns and property of the Spring House Hotel. Through their efforts, only four houses were built, the lawn area is protected by a conservation easement and the Spring House is protected by a historic facade easement. The Spring House and its setting will remain as it has been for the past 100 years. Scenic Block Island has worked since then to preserve the unique characteristics and beauty of the island, as represented by the following contributions:

  • Community Workshops to protect the character of Block Island, led by Phil Herr, New England planner and visionary, and others, including Charles Birnbaum founder of the Cultural Landscape Foundation
  • Demolition Delay Ordinance which requires review and delay of the proposed demolition of buildings on the island, with the intent to protect historic buildings and encourage their adaptive re-use
  • "Your Town" Workshop, a three day public forum held in 2005 in conjunction with the Town, one of only four in the country involving leaders in the cultural landscape field
  • Hiring of Town Planner partially due to the "Your Town" workshop, Jane Weidman was hired as Town Planner in March 2007. One important outcome of her work has been the adoption of new zoning restrictions on the size and massing of new homes
  • Meeting of the Minds Forum representatives of various community organizations came together this past August to review their goals and activities, and to identify areas to work together collaboratively, in a meeting sponsored by SBI
  • Awards for Successful Preservation and Restoration Efforts Scenic Block Island has recognized many in the community over the years for their contributions to the landscape and beauty of Block Island
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“We are all bound by our love of the island and our concern for its future.”
Mary Anderson, President, S.B.I.
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A “Meeting of the Minds” that was facilitated by Scenic Block Island was held on August 28, 2010 at the Community Center.

The purpose of the meeting was:

  1. Share background and current projects of community organizations.
  2. Find possible areas for collaboration.
  3. In a collaborative model, sharpen Scenic Block Island’s mission and
    goals after Mary Newhouse’s death.

For a copy of the meeting notes, please click here. (You will need Adobe Reader or equivalent to read the PDF document.)