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Sites and Stories: Mapping a Preservation Ecosystem

October 18 and 21, 2017

The field of historic preservation has always focused on architectural sites in order to preserve their history, and for many in the field, the sites are the focus: how do we save them?

Preservationists are increasingly called upon to help preserve stories about places that no longer physically exist, but still have much to tell us about our history. Stories of an erased landscape can also be the focus: how do we make them visible?

And what happens when a site tells more than one story, or erases one in favor of another? How do we plan for a future that preserves and unites sites and stories?

Preservation needs supporters from across the spectrum. SITES AND STORIES will set out to map a preservation ecosystem that attends to both the economics and the ethics of preservation, and allows for development of shared purpose and creation of shared opportunity. Join us for a conversation that will acknowledge the divides in the field, provide an opportunity to consider multiple points of view, and engage all those who care about the history of the built environment— both that which still stands and that which once stood.

Wednesday, October 18 Schedule

Saturday, October 21 Schedule

2017 Providence Symposium Venue

First Unitarian ChurchFirst Unitarian Church. Photo credit: Peter Michel

First Unitarian Church of Providence

1 Benevolent Street (click for map).

Built 1815-1816 by John Holden Greene, the First Unitarian Church is the second church to stand at its location at 1 Benevolent Street after a fire destroyed the previous meeting house built just 19 years prior. Inspired by the architectural designs of Charles Bulfinch and his work on sacred spaces in Boston, the First Unitarian Church echos Bulfinch's designs with its grand entrance portico comprised of a large bracketed pediment and doric pillars. 

The church has survived centuries of use, and the fire of 1966 caused by a lightning strike which threatened its strucutral integrity and existence. In a beautiful example of historic preservation, restoration began immediately after the disaster, repairing the wooden and plaster detailing to a high level of integrity.

The First Unitarian Church is in close proximity to many of the topics of discussion that will be explored during the Symposium such as owner neglect on Benefit Street, expansion on College Hill, and the history of displaced communities on Lippitt Hill, Fox Point and the area around Cathedral Square.


Claire Andrade-Watkins

Christina Bevilacqua

Marisa Angell Brown

Caroline Cheong

Randall Mason

Allen Penniman

Elihu Rubin

J. Trey Scott



PPS Thanks our 2017 Symposium Sponsors

10-6 symp sponsors

rich logo This project is made possible by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.