Featured House

Hilltop House off West Side Road

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 1:45pm

The Dickinsons have spent ten weeks a summer in this west side home for the last two decades. It was the first house they bought just after they were married. “We lived in an apartment in Harvard Square back then,” recalls Pam Dickinson. “We had a little bit of money because my husband had sold a house in Kentucky to move to Boston to be with me — and this was back when all you needed was a little bit of money. So we decided in our youthful wisdom to buy a vacation house before a regular house.”

The couple had travelled all over Massachusetts and Connecticut looking at places and hadn’t found anything perfect. They ended up coming out to Block Island for the first time because her mom was sailing over on her boyfriend’s boat and asked if they wanted to tag along. They ended up in the middle of a terrible August storm. “The weather was horrible, our engine broke and my mom’s boyfriend turned out not to be much of a sailor,” says Pam. “Finally like six hours out of Branford we caught sight of land — I though we were halfway to England!”

Things turned around once they hit dry land however. They ended up asking a realtor to show them around and they got lucky.

“We drove up the driveway to this house and it just took our breath way. It was unbelievable, we could see the tip of Montauk to our left and the Rhode Island coast to the right with the Connecticut shore in between. We got up the hill and came into that view and that was it,” recalls Pam. “We were hooked.’ (The magic in the place may be inherent: it was owned at the time by Eliot Sandford who was Harry Houdini’s secretary.)

The Dickinson’s love affair with B.I. began that weekend. “The whole island is crazy interesting, we thought we just had to be here,” says Pam.

The house they bought was a basic two-bedroom Berger cottage they ended up renovating after the birth of their second child in 1996. A good thing, as they went on to have two more kids.

“It’s been perfect for the six of us and our friends and our kids’ friends and our dogs and their dogs…,” says Pam. The family spends most of their island time on the front deck where she’s placed outdoor chairs and sofas for coffee drinking while watching Peter Mott’s ponies below and cocktail-sipping while watching the sun set into the ocean. 

What have her kids loved most about the place? The rolling meadow of a lawn for playing games (their favorite was something called Bloody Murderer!), the climbing tree, the ponds to explore, and how easy it was to ride their bikes to summer jobs at the dock and the B.I. Club (Pam is a past president of that organization).

Inside it’s an efficient set up for a big family. Pam likes that there is always space for different groups to hang out but the house is small enough that you can still hear one another calling and know where everyone is. 

“My ten-year-old could be watching a movie in the basement with five friends, while the teenagers were in the family room upstairs watching TV, and all the grownups were gathered in the living room in front of the fireplace,” says Pam.

After all this time, she adds, “probably half the summer population has been out here for a party, whether for a two-year-old’s birthday or a Saturday night adult gig. We’ve made lifelong friends and created lots of memories.” 

The Dickinson clan may be leaving the neighborhood, but they are not going far. They’ve just purchased a home at the end of Coast Guard Road, a smaller place more suited to “life as grandparents rather than young parents.”

Pam says she’s both excited and nervous about leaving this house. She’s hoping the new place will measure up and, of their longtime West Side home away from home, she says, “I know I will miss everything about this house. I hope another family loves it as much as we have. And uses it as much! We’ve gotten a lot of good times out of this house.”

The Dickinsons is listed at $2.495 million. Please call Block Island Realty at (401) 466-5887 or visit birealty.com for more information. From the June 2014 Block Island Summer Times