Monday, March 27, 2017




The 32nd Annual Rhode Island Statewide Preservation Conference will take place in Watch Hill on Saturday, April 29. Organized by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC), the conference theme is “The Economics of Historic Preservation.” With its turn-of-the-century cottage colony, commercial corridor, conservation land, and celebrated landmarks, Watch Hill is a distinctive seaside community. Historic preservation is essential to its sense of place and to its bottom line.

Westerly and Charlestown are the co-host communities for this year’s conference. Guided walks through Watch Hill and boat tours off the coast will cover economic development, design in historic districts, and local history. Tours further afield will visit Wilcox Park, the North End, Downtown Westerly, the Babcock-Smith House Museum, and sites associated with Westerly’s granite industry. A Charlestown tour will travel down Route 1 to the resort community of Quonochontaug, Fort Ninigret, and the village of Cross Mills. Panel presentations will look at “The Big Picture” of preservation and economic development, the important role of the cultural sector in the state economy, and how historic religious institutions contribute to local economies. Additional workshops will take on architecture and furniture, climate change and coastal landscapes, and historic parks.

At the Watch Hill Chapel, Donovan P. Rypkema, a leading historic preservation and real estate consultant, will deliver the keynote speech titled “The Economics of Historic Preservation—Recent Lessons from the U.S. and Beyond.” He will share some of his recent research and introduce his forthcoming study of the impact of historic preservation—from redevelopment projects to heritage tourism—on Rhode Island’s economy. Rypkema will be preceded by greetings from Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere, Edith Eglin (Watch Hill Chapel Society), Deborah Royce (Ocean House), Valerie Talmage (Preserve Rhode Island), Maia Farish (Roger Williams University), and RIHPHC Executive Director Edward F. Sanderson.

The 32nd Annual Statewide Preservation Conference invites the public to learn about new initiatives, discuss issues, and network with experts in the field of historic preservation. The registration fee is $50, which includes morning coffee, lunch, and a closing reception at One Bay Street, the recently restored Lanphear Livery Stable. The deadline for online registration is April 17. Walk-on registration may be available on site on April 29. To register or request more information, call 401-222-2078, or visit our website

Funding for the conference is provided by a National Park Service grant administered by the RIHPHC, with support from lead sponsors Town of Westerly, Town of Charlestown, Watch Hill Fire District, Amaral Revite, Ocean House, One Bay Street Center, Royce Family Fund, The Washington Trust Company, Watch Hill Conservancy, and Youngken Associates. Additional support comes from sponsors 1772 Foundation; A4 Architecture + Planning; AIA/RI; APA RI; Barbara Sokoloff Associates; BETA Group, Inc.; Brady Sullivan Properties; Brewster Thornton Group Architects; Brown Center for Public Humanities; Cornish Associates; DBVW Architects; The Damon Company; Dimeo Construction Company; E.F. O’Donnell & Sons; E.W. Burman; Epsilon Associates; The Foundry; Gilbane, Inc.; Gray & Pape, Inc.; Heritage Restoration, Inc.; Historic New England; Kay Hall Lofts; KITE Architects; Martone Service Company; Michael McKinley & Associates; Mott and Chace Sotheby's International Realty; Newport Architectural Forum; Northeast Collaborative Architects; Ocean House Marina; PAL; Paolino Properties; The Preservation Society of Newport County; Preserve Rhode Island; Providence Preservation Society; R.I. Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects; Roger Williams University; Salve Regina University; Sandra Liotus Lighting Design, LLC; Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Brokerage Inc.; Starr Development; Taylor Interior Design; Tecton Architects; The Thomas P. Sculco & Cynthia D. Sculco Foundation; VHB; Ventrone Architecture; Weekapaug Inn; West River Center; and Ken Woodcock.

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