Pride in Preservation: 29th Annual R.I. Statewide Historic Preservation Conference on Saturday, April 26 in Warren
The 29th Annual Rhode Island Statewide Preservation Conference will take place in Warren on Saturday, April 26. Organized by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC), the conference considers the theme of “Pride in Preservation.” As statewide leaders and mom-and-pop shopkeepers urge Rhode Islanders to take pride in the local and homegrown, preservationists respond by taking pride in local places and working to reuse, restore, and interpret.
The town of Warren is the host for this year’s conference. The surest way to measure Warren’s pride in preservation is to take a walking tour of the storefronts on Main Street, the wharves along Water Street, the artists’ studios in old mills, and the houses, churches, and other distinctive buildings in the historic district. Other conference tours will venture by bike, bus, and boat to Warren’s more distant corners as well as to neighboring Barrington, East Providence, and Bristol. Panel presentations will discuss putting pride to work for effective advocacy on behalf of preservation tax credits, pedestrian-friendly design, community preservation education, and Warren’s working waterfront. Other sessions will feature historic cemetery landscapes, the archaeology and early history of the region, and social media.
At the historic Baptist Church in Warren, the Opening Session will present a keynote speech by Public Health, Planning, and Transportation expert R. Mark Fenton of Scituate, Massachusetts. Fenton will speak on “Historic Communities, Healthy Communities.” The talk will share how new thinking on community design acknowledges that historic community infrastructure and traditional neighborhood design are often conducive to healthier lifestyles. He will explore a different perspective on the nation’s epidemic of physical inactivity, emphasizing how we can create communities that provide the triple bottom line: economic, environmental, and public health. The keynote address will be preceded by greetings from Rev. Esther Irish, Warren Town Council President Christopher Stanley, Maia Farish of Roger Williams University, and RIHPHC Executive Director Ted Sanderson.
A special feature of the 2014 conference will be a presentation and on-site garden demonstration by Roger B. Swain, also known as “the man with the red suspenders.” An esteemed author, biologist, educator, and gardener, Swain was the host of The Victory Garden on PBS and People, Places, and Plants on HGTV. With equal parts history and how-to, he will discuss the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, past and present. The session concludes with a visit to the garden at the Samuel Randall House (ca. 1810), a property owned by the Warren Preservation Society. Local garden designer Christine Lichatz will reveal plans to restore the landscape and create a sustainable, easy-to-maintain period garden.
The 29th Annual Statewide Preservation Conference is a great opportunity to learn about new initiatives, discuss issues, and network with experts in the field of historic preservation. The registration fee is $40, which includes morning coffee, lunch, and a closing reception at the newly restored Warren Armory. The postmark deadline for registration by mail is April 12. To register or request more information, call 401-732-1009, or visit preservation.ri.gov/conference. Tickets are limited, and tours sell out first, so register today!