The Entrepreneurial Preservationist

A man standing in a room.
With a bachelor’s and master’s in historic preservation from RWU, Ben Bergenholtz ’03 ’12M has built a business of bringing historic buildings back to life.

Ben Bergenholtz, RWU Class of 2013

Preservation Practices

While studying Historic Preservation at Roger Williams, Ben Bergenholtz ’03 ’12M began developing a business model that would help lead him to a great life and great career.

The inspiration started in the courses Bergenholtz took. There he learned the skills and knowledge that he would eventually put into practice as principal owner at Harborside Holdings Corporation. It then extended to his projects. There Bergenholtz got his first experiences in real restoration projects and was able to network with historic preservation-minded organizations around the state.

“We had Bristol, Newport, and other communities as almost our laboratory – we got to see the development and restoration projects happening firsthand, as well as go behind the scenes to see what developers and preservation societies do. It was an excellent education in preservation. We were not isolated in some ivory tower studying it. We were on the ground learning it.”

Bergenholtz is continuing to put the knowledge and skills he learned at RWU to use in his company's most recent project: helping to restore two buildings that have stood in Bristol since the mid-1800s. The project will help beautify the landscape and tell the story of Bristol’s downtown historic district, he says.