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Why Preserve?

At 60, the Providence Preservation Society asks its founding question of a new generation: Why Preserve?

In 1956, the PPS inaugurated what became a national mission for historic preservation when a group of citizens rallied to save Benefit Street’s colonial-era houses from the wrecking ball. Since that time, Providence has prided itself on its preservation victories, especially in comparison to some less prescient municipalities, in which historic architecture now lives only in fading photographs.

But while we have succeeded in preserving buildings from earlier eras, we increasingly recognize that they live on in a world of very different expectations, intentions, and needs than those that prevailed in the world for which they were built. Political, societal, economic, and environmental realities have changed in countless ways, and the question of “Why Preserve?” must be asked and answered within these new realities.

As part of our 60th anniversary celebration, we are launching a Symposium and a year of community-based conversations allowing us to ask the foundational questions that will steer PPS’s work for the future:

  • Why do we preserve?
  • What do we preserve?
  • Who decides what we preserve – that is, who are “we”?
  • What are the costs of preservation?
  • Who bears them?

Joining us to explore these questions will be Curt Viebranz, President and CEO of Mount Vernon, and Max Page, author of the recently released Why Preservation Matters. Hosted in the iconic Industrial Trust building, the 2016 Providence Symposium will confront the state of preservation head-on.

 Check out Plenary Spekaer Max Page's full presentation on Periscope - Thanks to panelist Max van Balgooy of Engaging Places LLC for the video!