When Block Island’s own Josh Redd of North Atlantic Builders was called to build a new home from the bottom up on the island’s North End, he knew exactly upon which plot of land the house would stand.
“It was right up by the North Light,” he explains. The Block Island North Light House (also called the Block Island Lighthouse) is one of the most iconic attractions on the island (though not to be confused with the popular Block Island Southeast Light perched atop Mohegan Bluffs). The original lighthouse on the land was erected in 1829, but the lighthouse standing there today is the fourth rendition, built in 1867. It includes the keeper’s house, constructed entirely of granite, and the striking lighthouse tower attached to the roof. The original illumination was provided by a fourth order Fresnel lens but the lighthouse became automated in 1955 without disturbing the architectural integrity of the keeper’s structure. The light was deactivated for the first time by the Coast Guard in 1973 and the tower was replaced with an unsightly skeleton version. After years of neglect, the lighthouse was sold to the town of New Shoreham and the North Light Commission raised funds to beautifully restore the lighthouse complete with a reinstalle fourth order Frensel lens and a new museum on the first floor.
With the restoration complete, it’s no wonder homeowners Lynn and Rob Lucier turned to Redd to craft a home that capitalized on the coveted lighthouse and water views, making the vista the focal point throughout the construction plans. What makes this project especially unique, Redd says, is that the Luciers, nearly empty nesters at the time of the groundbreaking, had bought the home from family 18 years ago shortly after they married and before becoming parents to four children. “Because they had some time to think about it, they knew what they wanted including in terms of placement,” he says.
The Luciers knew exactly how the home would function best for their needs during the time they would spend there through the year, but all the while taking into consideration what would attract vacationing renters to the property during the peak tourist season. “We knew we didn’t want a mainland home – nothing stuffy,” insists Lynn. “Just open and airy, and easy to get to the beach.”
But before construction was underway, thoughtful family members who live on Block Island full time and who work closely with the Block Island Historical Society recommended some careful modifications to the original design to keep in line with more traditional island style. The Luciers breezily agreed to the modifications as seamlessly blending into the architectural landscape of this treasured island was a priority for the couple. For Lynn especially, who summered at her parents’ nearby Cape her whole life, echoing the subtle look of island homes was critical as she identifies with the very fabric of New Shoreham. “My family goes back to the settlers of the island, I’m 11th generation or something,” she says. The result of those efforts, along with Josh Redd’s experienced hand, is a harmonious celebration of contemporary conveniences within a charming cedar-shingle home that fits seamlessly among century-old buildings and new builds.
Part of that Block Island traditional style Redd crafted was building a pair of steep dormers on the second floor, both with a large window capturing the serene views. “The homeowners really liked the change and it looks pretty sweet,” he concedes. Inside, the home takes a cue from its coastal surroundings with light airy hues, crisp whites and natural textures throughout. Though the kitchen is spacious, its simple charm lends a cozy vibe. Stainless steel appliances, a mix of open and closed shelving, wainscoting and marble style countertops offer a warm feel.
“We kept it to more natural colors,” says Lynn. “We enjoy, and we want visitors to enjoy looking at the sky and pond, and not have that view compete with something like a bold wall.” In the kitchen and some of the bathrooms, polished concrete countertops include flecks of authentic Block Island sea glass. “They’re beach stones I collected forever,” says Lynn.
Four bedrooms on the second floor provide enviable 180-degree water views, a bedroom on the main floor is remarkably convenient, especially with large families and grandparents, and an out-of-the-ordinary 4.5 bathrooms were clearly built with maximum capacity and convenience for renters in mind.
Outside, a wraparound porch is the epitome of relaxing, inviting guests to put all the tech toys aside and take in the salty air, as do the Adirondack chairs peppered across the lawn. There’s also a coveted outdoor shower – always a summertime favorite. The views are always jaw-dropping but perhaps none more so than at sunrise and sunset. Nearby is the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, offering 134 peaceful acres and opportunities to enjoy fishing, wildlife viewing, environmental education and for both professional and amateur shutterbugs, photography. Not too far away is the secluded Coast Guard Beach, a welcome respite from some of the other busier beaches on this island, which boasts 17 miles of unspoiled shoreline. Mansion Beach isn’t too far either and offers one of the best spots to catch a great wave.
As the Luciers and lucky vacationers get to experience this gem in the years to come, like the lighthouse in its sights, the future looks bright.
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