While our organization is renowned for its stewardship of the Newport Mansions—and proudly so—preservation advocacy and policy have been at the very core of the Preservation Society's mission since the organization was founded in 1945.
When The Preservation Society was founded, local historic zoning ordinances had not been adopted and organizations like the Newport Restoration Foundation, State Historic Preservation Offices, and The National Trust for Historic Preservation did not yet exist. The Preservation Society of Newport County emerged as the predominant watchdog of Newport’s architectural heritage. Katherine Warren and the Society’s other visionary founders took it upon themselves to not only advocate for individual structures but also for citywide preservation and, in doing so, they helped shape the future of preservation in Newport.
Today, the Preservation Society remains committed to advocacy as a means of protecting and enhancing quality of life by promoting the preservation of architecture, landscapes, and scenic character of Newport County.
Economic Impact Study
“Historic preservation is an economic asset as well as an aesthetic one.”
- Katherine Warren, Founder of The Preservation Society (1956)
Many see historic preservation as a tool to preserve individual buildings rather than a tool for community revitalization. Few realize the true scope of what historic preservation can accomplish. To help quantify its economic impacts, The Preservation Society and Preserve Rhode Island
partnered to commission Rhode Island's first statewide study to analyze the economic impacts of historic preservation. The results proved just how visionary Mrs. Warren was. The report, Historic Preservation: An Overlooked Economic Driver
, analyzes Rhode Island's preservation sector on four main themes: Heritage Tourism, Historic Tax Credits, Quality of Life, and Sustainability.
To learn more download the report.
Barns & Stone Walls Initiative
This collaborative initiative began by partnering with Preserve Rhode Island on an island-wide survey completed in 2017. The survey served as a crucial step to inform future preservation projects, by developing an inventory of important and threatened resources on Aquidneck Island.
Among the resources identified, two harkened back to Aquidneck Island's agricultural past, historic stone walls and barns. Aquidneck Island stone walls and barns are important tangible links to the Island’s history. The preservation of these resources is essential to Aquidneck Island’s sense of place and historic character. In an effort to preserve these historic resources, The Preservation Society and Preserve Rhode Island are launching a new pilot study. This study will be a collaborative effort to prevent the loss of Aquidneck Island's historic character through stone wall restorations and barn assessments.
Newport's Historic Cemeteries
Historic Cemeteries are valuable resources that play an important role in telling Newport's history. Proper care and maintenance are vital to the preservation of these important pieces of history, as weather and the environment can slowly erode headstones. As the steward of the Arnold Burying Ground, The Preservation Society is invested in cemetery preservation but has expanded its efforts citywide by partnering with Newport's Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission (HCAC).
Recently, on Rhode Island's Historic Cemetery Day, The Preservation Society partnered with the HCAC on a volunteer clean-up event. Dedicated volunteers made quick work of clearing vines and plant material from the gravestones and walls at Coggeshall Cemetery near The Breakers Stable & Carriage House. Within a few hours, their work transformed this important cemetery.
Paradise Valley: Restoring a Scenic View
Together with Scenic Aquidneck partners
, the Preservation Society raised support and funding to restore scenic views of one of Rhode Island’s most iconic cultural landscapes: Paradise Valley in Middletown.
Paradise Valley has provided inspiration for Hudson River School artists like William Trost Richards and John Frederick Kensett, writers like William Cullen Bryant, the philosopher Bishop George Berkeley, and hundreds of contemporary artists. By eliminating nearly 1.5 miles of utility poles and burying the electrical and communications lines adjacent to Second Beach, views of beloved historic sites like Hanging Rock, Sachuest Point, and St. George's School were restored. This work also helped to protect Paradise Valley’s vulnerable coastal habitat.
Visit Scenic Aquidneck to learn more.
A Community Impact Study
The Preservation Society is a driver of tourism, a catalyst for local spending, a job creator, supporter of local business and a contributor to Quality of Life. It is an economic engine for the community.
As Rhode Island’s most visited cultural attraction, The Preservation Society welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and employs four hundred people to protect, preserve and present its eleven historic properties. Each year, more than $100 million is generated for the city and state’s economy as a direct result of The Preservation Society’s operations. In addition to contributing to the city's economic vitality, The Preservation Society enhances the community's quality of life through contributions to beautification initiatives, educational programs, and hosting cultural events.
To learn more about The Preservation Society's community impacts download the report.