NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (WPRI) — Block Island’s waterfront landscape is about to look a lot different.
Demolition is officially underway on the historic Harborside Inn, which went up in flames last month.
The last piece of rubble will likely be cleared from the property by the end of the month, according to town officials.
Tourists and residents stopped by Monday to say their final goodbyes to the historic hotel.
New Shoreham resident Holland Cooke described the loss of the inn as being like “a death in the family.”
“It’s like a missing tooth on the smile of Block Island,” Cooke said.
(Story continues below gallery.)
Rick Haas, who spends the majority of his summers on the island, shared a similar sentiment.
“It brings tears to my eyes,” he said. “We’ve had so much joy. My sons are 32 and 28. They have never missed a summer on Block Island.”
Peter Cotter, who also visits annually, told 12 News that walking off the Block Island Ferry and onto Water Street will never be the same.
“It’s a part of my past. It’s a part of my history,” he explained. “It’s sad, you know? There are a lot of memories.”
Block Island Town Manager Maryanne Crawford said surrounding businesses are welcome to stay open during the process.
“It’s going to be a big void for the community,” she said.
Crawford added that they have run several tests and there’s no need to worry about the air quality in the area.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but investigators believe it started in the hotel’s first-floor kitchen.