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    At Roger Williams University, we believe that preservation is about people and place as much as it is about history.

    We offer a four-year Bachelor of Science, a two-year Master of Science, and a combined, accelerated 4 + 1 (five-year) B.S./M.S. dual degree in Historic Preservation. A minor in Historic Preservation is offered for students in other undergraduate programs. In cooperation with the School of Law, we also offer a unique Juris Doctor/Master of Science in Historic Preservation.

    Historic preservation, which is also called built heritage conservation or the conservation of the historic environment, seeks to identify and conserve the historical authenticity of buildings, landscapes, and places for the benefit of human well-being. The primary activities in the field are the identification, treatment, and protection of these historic resources, and ways that these activities can be planned. While historic preservation has traditionally focused on buildings and places, contemporary approaches are increasingly interested in how people are affected by historic places and ways that the field can be redefined with the specific goal of benefitting people. As such, historic preservation is inherently interdisciplinary, incorporating broad aspects of the humanities (e.g. history, anthropology, environmental psychology, architecture) and science (e.g., materials science, engineering).

    Historic preservation professionals work in four main areas: 1) planning, compliance, and environmental protection; 2) design and materials conservation; 3) historic site and museum management and interpretation; and 4) advocacy, downtown revitalization (e.g., Main Street), and community development.

    Examples of our students' work are on RWU's Research and Scholarship site.

    The Historic Preservation program at RWU has several unique aspects that set it apart from the competition:

    • The first undergraduate historic preservation program (established in 1976) and one of the oldest programs in the country
    • Some of North America's oldest and most historic cities, dating back to the 17th century, are at our doorstep
    • Partnerships with prominent preservation organizations in the country whose work is globally recognized
    • International connections
    • Extensive community engagement and field work
    • Full-time faculty dedicated to 100% teaching in the historic preservation program
    • Successful, renown practitioners delivering course content
    • Understanding people and their interaction with historic places through the social sciences (e.g., anthropology, sociology, environmental psychology)
    • Architectural conservation (scientific and craft/trades approaches to conserving buildings and materials)
    • Heritage management (tangible and intangible)
    • Extensive alumni network spanning nearly four decades

    The Historic Preservation Program is a member of the National Council for Preservation Education.

    Historic Preservation Mission Statement


    • Albert Michaels Conservation
    • Adirondack Architectural Heritage
    • Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust
    • Harpers Ferry, National Park Service
    • Higgins Armory and Museum
    • Historic Charleston Foundation
    • The Hopi Foundation
    • Lyndhurst, National Trust for Historic Preservation
    • Preservation Action
    • Preservation Massachusetts
    • Providence Planning Department
    • Strawberry Banke Museum




    Government agencies

    • General Services Administration
    • National Park Service
    • State Historic Preservation Offices

    Non-profit organizations

    • Indiana Landmarks
    • National Trust for Historic Preservation
    • New York Landmarks Conservancy
    • US/International Council on Monuments and Sites

    Historic sites

    • Fairmount Park
    • Preservation Society of Newport County
    • Mystic Seaport
    • Slater Mill Historic Site

    Private practice

    • Capital Properties
    • Goody-Clancy Architects
    • Design and Construction



    Local and Regional Resources

    The Historic Preservation Program's location near some of North America's oldest and most historic communities, such as Newport (founded in 1639), Bristol (settled in 1680), Providence (founded in 1636), and Boston (founded in 1620), provide students with ample opportunities to put their studies into practice with field-based workshops, assignments, and internships with local, regional, national, and international organizations and firms. Students in the program have access to the following local and regional organizations, among many other possibilities:

    • Newport Historical Society (1,500 linear feet of manuscript materials from the 17th to the 20th century, such as ships’ logs, papers from some of the country’s most influential people, early African-American history) — Employed in archival research class, The Newport Seminae, past group projects, and advanced research.
    • Bristol Historical and Preservation Society (materials from the 17th to the 20th century, such as ships' logs, papers from the Bristol-Cuba slave trade, family records, and maps) — Employed in archival research class and for advanced research.
    • Providence City Archives (40,000 cubic feet of records from 1636 to the present, including vital and probate records, house and city directories, local census data, deed books, and maps and atlases) — Employed in archival research class and for advanced research.
    • Rhode Island Historical Society (5,000 cubic feet of materials encompassing over a thousand separate collections including military records from the American Revolution and the Civil War) — Employed in archival research class and for advanced research.
    • Rhode Island Supreme Court Judicial Records Center (judicial records from 1671 to 1900) — Employed in archival research class, in conjunction with RIDOT
    • Public Archaeology Laboratory (New England's largest cultural resource management firm) — Students have interned and many alum have worked at PAL
    • Grow Smart Rhode Island (advocates sustainable economic growth based on Rhode Island’s quality of place, including its historic environment) — We have engaged through lecturers, site-specific projects, involvement in biannual conference
    • Providence Preservation Society (preservation advocacy non-profit)
    • Preserve Rhode Island (statewide preservation advocacy non-profit) — Internship and employment with students/alum; ongoing involvement on projects via work-study and dngraduate assistantship positions
    • Preservation Society of Newport County (preserves and interprets a collection of significant mansions from the Gilded Age) — Recent graduate seminar offered a and hosted by PSNC; graduate assistantships in several departments
    • Historic New England (one of the country’s oldest preservation organizations, founded in 1910 by William Sumner Appleton) — We have hosted two recent regional symposia with HNE.
    • Commerce RI (state of Rhode Island department focusing on economic development in partnership with RWU Community Partnership Center) — Recent, site-specific work ahs been conducted through a graduate workshop

    In addition, students have access the following institutes, centers, and archives at Roger Williams University for their historic preservation work:

    University Archives (collections related to the history of the university, architecture, and local manuscripts and newspapers)