Block Island Timeline

Year round Manissean Village Site


The Niantic, whose tribe eventually merged with the Narragansett people, called the island “Manisses” (“little island of Manitou”). Archaeological sites indicate these native people lived largely by hunting deer, catching fish and shellfish, and growing corn, beans, and squash. They migrated from […]

Verrazzano sights Island


In 1524, what later became known as Block Island was sighted by Giovanni da Verrazzano, who named it “Claudia”, in honor of Claude, Duchess of Brittany, queen consort of France and […]

Adrian Block Charts BI


In 1614, Block Island was charted by the Dutch explorer Adrian Block, who named it for himself.[18]

Endicott Expedition


An expedition from the Boston area arrived in 1636 led by Colonel John Endicott. Due to this event, the island initially became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which in […]

Europeans Settle BI


In 1661, the Endicott group sold the island to a party of sixteen settlers, led by John Alcock, who are today memorialized at Settler’s Rock, near Cow’s Cove.

New Shoreham established by Gen.Assembly


Block Island was incorporated by the Rhode Island general assembly in 1672, and the island government adopted the name “New Shoreham.” A Dutch map of 1685 clearly shows Block Island, indicated […]

Island occupied by Navy


During The War of 1812 Block Island was briefly occupied by the British Navy under the command of Sir Thomas Hardy. British vessels included HMS Dispatch, HMS Terror, HMS Nimrod, HMS Pactolus and HMS Ramillies. Hardy took the fleet […]

Current North Lighthouse Built


In 1829, the first North Light was built at Sandy Point on the north end of the island.  It was replaced in 1837 after it was washed out to sea. […]

Southeast Lighthouse Built


In 1873, construction began on Block Island’s other lighthouse, Southeast Light. 

Victorian Resort


Paralleling the growth in the US economy in the late 1800′s, Block Island enjoyed the reputation of a grand Victorian resort from the 1860′s to the 1920′s. Large hotels were […]

The fishing fleet


The museum has a unique collection of small framed sketches by the artist Reynolds Beal depicting the island's fishing industry.

Block Island Historical Society Founded


The three story building with cupola and red straight mansard roof is the headquarters for the Society established in 1942. The House is listed on the Register of Historic Places. […]

Block Island Conservancy Founded


In 1972 the Block Island Conservancy was founded. Capt. Rob Lewis spearheaded this campaign to “Save Open Space”. He was also a member of the Historical Society Board of Directors […]

Southeast Lighthouse Moved


The National Historic Landmark, Southeast Lighthouse(1873) was moved back from the edge of the bluff in 1993, as it was in danger of falling off the Mohegan Bluffs on the […]

Visit Us

Support Block Island History!

The Society is supported by memberships and donations from people like you — people who love the island and see the value in preserving and celebrating its history. Consider helping our mission by becoming a member or making a donation today.