The second Keeping History Above Water conference, held October 29 through November 1 in Annapolis, Maryland, brought 275 attendees from around the world to discuss the impact of sea level rise on historic coastal communities, according to a press release issued today from the Newport Restoration Foundation.

The first conference, organized by the Newport Restoration Foundation in 2016, sought to raise awareness of the different ways in which sea level rise impacts historic buildings, landscapes, and neighborhoods, and highlighted what might be done to protect those resources. The conference in Annapolis continued that conversation, with a series of lectures, workshops, roundtables and tours.

Introductory remarks by Annapolis’ Chief of Historic Preservation, Lisa Craig

Keeping History Above Water: Annapolis, Alternatives for Coastal Communities, held at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel, brought together the climate heritage community, as well as scientists, architects, planners and policy leaders to discuss important themes in the field which included planning for rising tides, protection and adaptation, and the need for urgent action. The City of Annapolis’ Cultural Resource Hazard Mitigation Plan was highlighted, using guidelines from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to identify cultural resources within the 100-year floodplain and assess them in terms of their historic significance, and also what FEMA calls “community value.” Sessions went deeper into the planning process, and the importance of public outreach in determining what to prioritize when preparing for climate change. Speakers described ways in which historic buildings can “live with water,” through elevation and other methods such as using furniture and historic materials proven to be resistant to water damage over time. The urgency to act was noted throughout all the sessions, with speakers emphasizing the need for planners and politicians not to underestimate the scope of climate change or invest in short-term solutions.

Shantia Anderheggen, Director of Preservation, Newport Restoration Foundation

The Newport Restoration Foundation selected the City of Annapolis as the second conference host because the city includes a large National Historic Landmark District and many historic and cultural assets and strong city leadership in the multi-year initiative, Weather It Together: Protecting Our Historic Seaport Community. This initiative generated the city’s Cultural Resource Hazard Mitigation Plan, along with implementation strategies to reduce the risk of damage or loss to private and public properties most vulnerable to the effects of rising tides. In 2016, Annapolis was named one of ten cities selected to be part of the National League of Cities Leadership in Community Resilience Program.

After two successful conferences on this subject, the Newport Restoration Foundation will build upon this momentum by applying insights and strategies to the organization’s work in Newport, Rhode Island, and will continue bringing heritage practitioners, policymakers, climate scientists, and the public together for events in the year ahead.

Right to Left, Lisa Craig, City of Annapolis Chief of Historic Preservation; Brian Ambrette, Coastal Resilience Program Manager, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy; Bradley Dean, Coastal Scientist, Michael Baker International

Newport Restoration Foundation also plans to bring more awareness about heritage resilience and climate change issues to the Newport community through local programming and educational events. On December 12 at 3:00 pm, Roger Williams University graduate students will present examples of how to resiliently rehabilitate historic buildings. The event, held at NRF’s 29 Touro Street building, is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Visit for more information.

“This is a critical issue for historic coastal communities”, said Wendy Nicholas, NRF’s Interim Executive Director in the news release. “Our Board of Trustees is committed to helping Newport and other communities address the threats of sea level rise. As an owner of a large portfolio of Colonial era houses which stand in the floodplain, NRF is in a unique position to test adaptations that can help protect vulnerable buildings. We will do that work and share the results with other property owners.”

Keeping History Above Water Annapolis conference ideas depicted in illustrated form by designers throughout the event.

Those interested in learning more about Keeping History Above Water: Annapolis will find the list of the 2017 conference speakers as well as day-by-day recaps of the proceedings at For further inquiries about conferences and programming opportunities, please email at

Ryan Belmore is the 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 Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.