Keeping History Above Water

Keeping History Above Water addresses major threat to coastal communities, April 10 – 13

The international debate on climate change, cultural heritage, and how to reconcile the two gains a foothold on the East Coast in April with Keeping History Above Water, a 4-day conference organized by the Newport Restoration Foundation to address potential damage to historic buildings and neighborhoods from sea level rise and increasing storm activity.

Keeping History Above Water (KHAW) will emphasize practical approaches to protecting historic built environments in both the near and long term, at individual building, infrastructure, and policy levels. The conference features an international slate of panelists with expertise in climate science, a wide range of knowledge in heritage preservation, and experience in community organizing around this increasingly urgent concern.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will offer opening remarks, followed by keynote speakers Adam Markham (Union of Concerned Scientists), Mary Rowe (The Municipal Art Society of New York), and Tom Dawson (SCAPE/Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion). Attendees will hear from panelists in the fields of preservation, oceanography, architecture, engineering, insurance, and environmental finance. Recognized experts from Scotland, the Netherlands, Venice, Iran, New York, Annapolis, Florida, New Orleans, and Galveston will help to define a new international, multidisciplinary community that will be tackling this problem for years to come.

The Newport Restoration Foundation hosts the conference in partnership with Roger Williams UniversitySalve Regina University; the Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island; Preserve Rhode IslandThe National Trust for Historic Preservation; and the Union of Concerned Scientists. A case study of possible mitigation measures for one of NRF’s 18th-century properties and the adjacent Point Neighborhood will be presented as a central educational component of the conference, thanks to funding from the R.I. Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (RIHPHC), the City of Newport, and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation.

The complete program is now available on the conference website, which includes speaker bios and details on panel discussions, workshops, and tours of threatened areas and structures. Keeping History Above Water takes place Sunday, April 10, through Wednesday, April 13, 2016, at the Marriott, Newport, Rhode Island. A discounted room rate is available. Deadline to register is March 20, 2016. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...