Block Island’s Women’s History Month

We’ve extended Women’s History Month into April. Here are profiles of Rita Draper, Kay Lewis, Liz Doherty, and Valerie Preler in their own words:
Rita Draper: Owner of The 1661 Inn
Love of sailing first brought my family to Block Island in the 1960s. My parents thought it would be a great idea to sell our 27’ Triton sailboat, purchase a small summer cottage, and spend summers on the island. My teenage brothers and I would find summer jobs and enjoy beach time every day. After a few possibilities fell through, friends Herbie Marks and Claire Pike suggested we look at the Florida House, a 16 room inn, and in May 1970, we opened it as The 1661 Inn! My parents, brothers and I knew nothing about the innkeeping and restaurant business, so it was learned by doing! Lots of scraping, painting, wallpapering and hard work followed. Needless to say, we didn’t see the beach for many summers! In 1978, I met my husband Steve Draper and moved year round to the Island.
In addition to innkeeping and developing our businesses over the past fifty years, I have been fortunate to have served on many boards and organizations.

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