t’s a somewhat familiar story. A summer
home, which the parents excitedly bought
when the family was just the two of them and
the kids, was beginning to feel small.
“My husband and I started to go out there
and explore,” says Mary Ann O’Leary about
Block Island, which they “fell in love with”
during those early trips to the 9.7-square-mile
haven 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island.
In 2006, they bought a 1,200-square-foot
house built in 1884 for Captain Benjamin F.
Gardner. Painted a charming red, it was close
to the beach and next to conservation land.
Ever since, the little red house has been a
place for their growing family — which in 12
years has more than doubled with the addition of the kids’ spouses
and children — to come together. More space was definitely needed.
O’Leary could either find a larger house, add on to the red house,
or build something separate on the 2-plus-acre property. Because her
family loved the red house as it was, she decided on the third option
and contacted on-island builder Mark Kildea of Stix Man Construc-
tion, who helped her get a variance from the town of New Shoreham for
built in 1884 for Captain Benjamin F. Gardner, the 1,200-square-
foot red house (above) is where the family has summered since
2006. The first floor of the new structure, finished in 2017, has an
open plan with a kitchen (top) that faces the red house. There, a
peninsula is topped in gray quartz and open shelving holds
day-to-day dishware. The screened porch to the right is a favorite