The main house on the property was first built in 1924 and used as a boarding house for the local fishing community. Bob and Mary Newhouse, from New York City, purchased The Sea Breeze property in 1979. They believed Block Island would be the perfect community to start a family business with their three daughters.
The Sea Breeze Gallery was established on-site by Mary in1981. The Gallery featured many local artisits, from the island and RISD (Rhode Island School of Design). The Sea Breeze Gallery showcased multimedia works of painting, photography, glass, and handmade ceramics. You can see much of this artwork now displayed and some for sale in the guestrooms.
The Sea Breeze B+B was established in 1983. The Inlet Cottage opened with five simple and rustic guestrooms with shared bath. Renovations in 1989 added another 5 rooms, all with private bath. The intention was to combine a classic and casual style filled with art. The Sea Breeze has grown in popularity, just as word of Block Island has spread.
From scraping shingles, painting shutters, planting roses, paving the driveway, framing iconic Block Island posters, brewing coffee, and making the muffins, the Newhouse family all had an immersive education in running a seasonal family business. Bob became the defacto handyman. When Bob retired as an ophthalmologist in New York City, he continued to provide eye care and glaucoma screenings to islanders at the Medical Center. To this day, at the age of 88, Bob can be found helping to fix whatever might be broken, and is the only one who knows every square inch of the plumbing. Alisa, the eldest daughter, started as the Inn’s first manager, and with her skills as an interior designer helped Mary design each guestroom. Sarah spent many summers as the manager of The Sea Breeze Gallery. Andrea, the youngest daughter, was the main chambermaid for the B+B. Since Mary Newhouse’s passing in 2010, Andrea has continued the task of keeping The Sea Breeze business running.
The gardens were originally designed by Mary. They have been tended with care by Carolyn Brown since 1991. Carolyn Brown came to know Mary through her own gallery on the island called Square One. Dozens of new plants arrive annually, and each summer season presents a challenge. Today, there are over a 100 varieties of perennials in the gardens surrounding the property.
Robert and Mary Newhouse deeded land behind the B+B as an easement to The BI Land Trust in 2001. Interest in land conservation and planning led Mary Newhouse to serve on The Town Planning Board. Robert and Mary were also the original founders of Scenic Block Island and The Committee for The Great Salt Pond. Through the hard work of many volunteers in organizations such as The BI Land Trust, Scenic Block Island, Preserve Rhode Island, and The BI Conservancy, roughly 40% of the island has been preserved as open space. A portion of our proceeds are donated to support various projects on the island each year.
Recent donations include the following projects : Fence replacement along beach dunes. Rebuilding The Old Spring Pump House station down the road on Spring Street. In August of 2017, we were featured on the Block Island Annual House and Garden Tour, by The BI Historical Society.
It is a constant battle to limit development and to preserve the island’s historical character, watershed views, and small-scale architecture. This is part of what makes Block Island truly special. Guests are advised to help with water and energy conservation practices and we hope to bring awareness to the fragile ecosystems on the island. With our on-site bicycle rentals we encourage guests to use bicycles during their stay. We do our best to limit all plastics. We also use recycled and natural materials and locally sourced ingredients, such as local island eggs and honey for our breakfasts. Block Island is a unique place for many reasons, and we hope our returning guests and future guests for generations will treasure it.
Block Island is perfect for hiking, biking, sailing, kayaking, fishing, and fine dining. There are countless paths to explore. Our staff is happy to help arrange activities and provide great advice. The Sea Breeze is a destination in which to unwind and reconnect. With this in mind, we are deliberately lo-tech and our guestrooms do not have televisions, wi-fi, clocks, radios, air-conditioning, room phones or other electronics. Dedicated to limiting development and protecting natural resources, stay at The Sea Breeze and you are sure to discover part of the beauty that makes Block Island so special. We appeal to the adventurous guest who appreciates being "unplugged" at this remote island get-away vacation.
Enjoy our slideshow below of archival photos of The Sea Breeze Gallery, The B+B, and scenes of Block Island from the 1980's.