The Block Island Times

Featured Property: the Zarrella house

By Margie Bucheit | Jan 30, 2013
Courtesy of: Sullivan Real Estate Islanders know this as The Pirate House for the lifesize statue that adorns the lawn in summer — he hibernates in winter. The interior of the house is far too cozy for any pirate worth his salt, but the sweeping ocean and harbor views are decidedly swashbuckling.

Off Spring Street near where the road curves around toward the Southeast Lighthouse, a spectacular front porch view awaits some lucky buyer. From a comfortable chair one can see Old Harbor, Block Island Sound, and at night the lights of Newport Bridge. And from the porch one can also keep a close eye on The Pirate’s doings down at Liar’s Corner.

Many Block Islanders know this house as The Pirate’s digs. Jerry and Debbi Zarrella’s lovely house invites relaxation with a good book and a morning cup of joe. But they are the first to admit they share their space with a swarthy sort of guy, one who, in summer months, likes to hang out at the corner of their driveway near the road, dubbed Liar’s Corner.

Zarrella hopes the new buyers will keep the infamous Liar’s Corner intact. Who knows what inspired tales found their beginnings here, under the pirate’s watchful gaze? As for whether the pirate himself will stay or go when the property changes hands is unknown.

The home looks out on an ocean view that is, Zarrella says, a pirate’s dream.

Large windows that face Block Island Sound are perfect for ocean-lovers. The Zarrellas say their pirate is a nag and leaves notes down at Liar’s Corner about how things need to be in the house itself, thus the many windows facing the sea.

Inside the house, a first floor great room flows into a well-lit kitchen and dining area with large windows on two sides. The kitchen is nicely designed and could hide a secret compartment. A separate living room, also on the first floor has east facing windows that face Block Island Sound. In this room there is a gas fireplace, nice for taking the chill off on a winter’s day.

Built in 2004, the house is an easy-to-maintain retreat. It is large enough to accommodate friends and family. The house, like a ship, is efficient in its use of space. Within its 2,000 plus square feet are four bathrooms, three second-floor bedrooms and a den, just off the one car garage. An outdoor shower tucks into a corner by the side door, the best place to hose down a pirate’s crew if they have been out carousing.

Buried Loot?

Whether the guy who commandeers Liar’s Corner buried stolen treasure on this property is anybody’s guess. When the house was built, Zarrella kept a close eye on things. He didn’t see the pirate around any of those nicely tiled baths or near the master bathroom with the Jacuzzi and separate shower. Both he and his wife thoroughly checked the well equipped, granite countered, kitchen and didn’t find anything. Both he and his wife have looked for trapdoors in the wooden floors but come up empty. Likewise they have searched for secret compartments in the ample closets throughout the house.

The present owners wish the best of luck to a new crew, when it comes to finding that buried treasure. Maybe new housemates will allow the notorious fellow inside during the summer months, where he can enjoy the air conditioning and get out of the rain. Then again, new owners might just elect to send him out to sea in a boat with a hole in the bottom.

In the meantime, Block Island’s Pirate will stay where he is, the Zarrellas say. They think a winter in isolation in the garage will do him some good. And when spring arrives look for him on the corner, watching the Spring Street happenings down at the bottom of the flagstone steps.

At Liar’s Corner, Zarrella discussed his swarthy mate’s future with this reporter.

“Well, in the pirate’s own words, everything has its price,” he said. “This guy is pretty attached to his little piece of the island, but why is the question. Just last fall he was sporting new gold chains and a solid gold hoop in his ear.” “Where’d you get that?” I asked him, and he just laughed. But you know, there was mud on his boots and under his fingernails. He was digging around here somewhere. He wouldn’t spill the beans so we relegated him to the garage. Maybe if he likes the new owners better than us he will let them in on his secrets…”

The Zarrella house is listed at $1,495,000. For information contact Sullivan Real Estate at (401) 466-5521 or

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