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Annual Conference - Tours & Sessions

Download the conference program (pdf format), or consult the listings below.

The following tours and sessions are SOLD OUT: A4, A8, A9, B7, B8. B9.

SESSION A: 11:15am - 12:30pm


A1 Blackstone River Valley, from Corridor to Park
Paula Brouillette, Chair, Corridor Keepers
Margaret Carroll, Citizen Advocate
Michael Creasey, Superintendent of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and Executive Director of the Conservation Study Institute, National Park Service
Larry Lowenthal, Historian, National Park Service (retired)
Jan Reitsma, Executive Director, John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission
Edward F. Sanderson, Executive Director, RIHPHC
Stephanie Smith Toothman, Associate Director for Cultural Resources, National Park Service

This session will trace forty years of work by citizens, local leaders, and the National Park Service to clean up and preserve nationally significant historic and natural resources in the Blackstone River Valley. Speakers will describe the origins of the heritage corridor and the current effort to establish a national historic park.

A2 Pedaling the Past: Bicycle Trails in Historic Places
Bob Billington, President and CEO, Blackstone Valley Tourism Council
Bill DeSantis, Corporate Director of Bicycle Transportation, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.
Jeffrey Emidy, Project Review Coordinator, RIHPHC

Much of Rhode Island’s growing network of bicycle trails retraces the old railroad lines, canal towpaths, and other routes that pass through and connect our historic places. In this session, we will discuss the process of planning, advocating, and designing recreational routes that promote heritage tourism while balancing the preservation of historic resources.

A3 Historic Preservation 101: Hands-On Learning at RI Colleges and Universities
Students and faculty from Brown University, Bryant University, Rhode Island College, Roger Williams University, Salve Regina University, and University of Rhode Island

At this session, college students report on a variety of unique and innovative educational programs, initiatives, and activities related to historic preservation, the interpretation of historic sites, and archaeology. Students are making a difference with hands-on projects from Providence and South County to the Mediterranean Basin. Learn about recent community/college partnerships and discuss a future project for your organization.

Roberta Randall, Principal Historic Architect, RIHPHC
Jean Rondeau, President, Stadium Theatre Foundation

When the Stadium Theatre opened in 1926, it was described as “the show-place of Woonsocket.” Reopened in 2001, thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers and civic leaders, the Stadium continues to be a community treasure. This tour will discuss what it takes to run a 21st-century arts venue and go behind-the-scenes to explore theatre infrastructure from orchestra pit to projection booth.

A5 Steeple City: Woonsocket’s Historic Houses of Worship BUS TOUR
Mack Woodward, Architectural Historian, RIHPHC

The religious buildings of Woonsocket are the most visible manifestation of the community’s diversity. This intriguing tour will explore the rich architectural and artistic legacy of the city’s historic houses of worship.

A6 Making Woonsocket Main Street: History and Architecture WALKING TOUR
Erik Eckilson, Volunteer, Museum of Work and Culture
Kevin Klyberg, Ranger, John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor

The first in a series of three walking tours of Woonsocket’s historic Main Street investigates the growth of a small farming community into one of the 19th century’s great industrial centers. Visit local landmarks including Monument Square (1870), Woonsocket Depot (1882), and Harris Hall (1856+) en route to the Museum of Work and Culture in the former Barnai Worsted Company Dye Works (1919).

A7 Making Woonsocket Main Street: History, Architecture, and Art WALKING TOUR with LUNCH
Irene Blais, President, Woonsocket Historical Society
Brad Fesmire, Program Director, RiverzEdge Arts Project

See description for A6. Extend the tour for another hour, and fraternize with comrades over lunch in the 1930s Independent Textile Union Hall inside the Museum of Work and Culture. Then visit RiverzEdge Arts Project’s mill studio, where local teens get hands-on work experience in graphic design, digital photography, screen-printing, and visual arts.

SOLD OUT A8 Industry Makes Community: Whitinsville BUS TOUR with LUNCH SOLD OUT
Valerie Paul, Ranger, John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
Dennis Rice, Executive Director, Alternatives Unlimited, Inc.

Beginning in the 1820s, the Whitin family developed the industrial community of Whitinsville, from its mills and factories to its worker housing and civic buildings. Hear the stories these buildings tell about American industrialization, the workers’ lives, and social stratifications in a classic Blackstone Valley mill village. This tour includes lunch at the Whitin Mill, which incorporated renewable energy technologies in its award-winning rehabilitation.

SOLD OUT A9 Here’s Looking at You, Hopedale BUS TOUR with LUNCH SOLD OUT
Peter Coffin, Ranger, John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
Michael Steinitz, Director of Preservation Planning, Massachusetts Historical Commission

Founded in 1841 as a small utopian settlement, Hopedale evolved into a paternalistic company town. Its tree-lined streets, abundant parks, stately buildings, and sprawling mill complex tell the unique story of this industrial community. This tour will also stop at the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge to see restored sections of the Blackstone Canal and Towpath, explore exhibits at the River Bend Farm Visitors Center, and eat lunch. Another stop will take in the historic buildings and landscape of Daniels Farmstead in Blackstone.

SESSION B: 2:00pm - 3:15pm


B1 Local Communities and National Parks
Paulette Hamilton, Administrator, Town of North Smithfield
Maia Small, Partner, Thurlow Small Architecture
Joanna Doherty, Community Planner, John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
Jennifer Smith, Site Manager, Roger Williams National Memorial, National Park Service

National parks don’t exist in a vacuum—they are integral to the local communities that host them. Learn about successful collaborations between parks and local stakeholders, consider the impacts that parks have on host communities, and explore how a national park could be woven into the fabric of the Blackstone River Valley.

B2 Working Rivers: Balancing Restoration and Preservation
Christopher Fox, Executive Director, Wood Pawcatuck Watershed Association
Frank Matta, Board Member, Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone
Donna Williams, President, Blackstone River Coalition

Since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, we have made tremendous progress in restoring our waterways while understanding the critical need to protect and celebrate our industrial heritage. Now it is time to encourage people, fish, and birds to flock to our rivers. Using the Blackstone and Wood-Pawcatuck as case studies, this session will highlight the Clean by 2015 Campaign, river access programs that encourage recreational opportunities, and historic dam/fish ladder projects.

B3 Final Destinations: Three Perspectives on Cemetery Preservation
Martha Lyon, ASLA, Principal, Martha Lyon Landscape Architecture
Valerie Paul, Ranger, John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
Charlotte Taylor, Senior Archaeologist, RIHPHC

Cemeteries are more than peaceful resting places—they are important historic resources. Hear a landscape architect’s perspective on cemeteries as designed landscapes, and how best to maintain them today. Learn about how to organize volunteers to do hands-on work restoring cemeteries. And review the laws protecting historic cemeteries, the work of the Rhode Island Cemeteries Commission, and how archaeology plays a part in the protection and study of historic burial sites.

presented by AIA/RI

B4 Old is the New Green: Preservation and Sustainability in the 21st Century
Holly Grosvenor, AIA, LEED AP, Associate, Northeast Collaborative Architects
Dennis Rice, Executive Director, Alternatives Unlimited, Inc.
Stephen Tilly, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Stephen Tilly Architect
Martha Werenfels, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects

Reusing historic buildings—as opposed to sending them to the landfill—is increasingly important as our natural resources dwindle. This session will explore ways to preserve historic buildings while introducing the technologies that ensure healthy and sustainable communities. Topics will include embodied history as well as embodied energy, hydropower, and passive climate controls. Attendees will learn why saving historic buildings must be at the center of the green movement, not on the periphery.

B5 Remaking Woonsocket Main Street: Policy and Planning WALKING TOUR
Mayor Leo T. Fontaine, City of Woonsocket
Joe Garlick, Executive Director, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley
Matt Wojcik, Economic Development Director, City of Woonsocket
Carrie Zaslow, Program Officer, R.I. Local Initiatives Support Corporation

The story of Main Street continues with Woonsocket’s efforts to preserve the historic streetscape and encourage new economic development. The city’s Main Street/Riverfront Initiative is building on the success of anchor arts and culture venues and local restaurants with support from programs like LISC’s Corridors of Retail Excellence. Take a walk with Mayor Fontaine and non-profit leaders as they discuss how efforts to cultivate small businesses are strengthening Woonsocket’s downtown.

SESSION B: 2:00pm – 5:00pm

B6 Bike Blackstone BICYCLE TOUR
Bob Billington, President and CEO, Blackstone Valley Tourism Council
Bill DeSantis, Corporate Director of Bicycle Transportation, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.

Thirty years ago, visionaries imagined a Blackstone River Bikeway stretching 48 miles from Worcester to Providence and connecting the historic, recreational, and natural resources along the Blackstone River and Canal. To date, 10.3 miles have been completed in Rhode Island and 2.5 in Massachusetts. Experience the Blackstone River on two wheels to learn firsthand about planning, design, and marketing of this unique resource.

SOLD OUT B7 Ashton and Slater Mill BUS TOUR SOLD OUT
Virginia Hesse, Principal Historic Architect, RIHPHC
Albert T. Klyberg, Historian

This two-part tour investigates how Samuel Slater’s innovative installation of a water-powered cotton-spinning system in Pawtucket kicked off America’s industrial development. Visit Slater Mill (1793) and Wilkinson Mill (1810) to learn the story of early textile and machine manufacturing. Then explore the village of Ashton, a tiny mill village that grew into an important industrial community as canal and railroad transportation brought its products to markets around the world.

SOLD OUT B8 Slater Mill, Slatersville, and the Roots of Industrial America BUS TOUR SOLD OUT
Rick Greenwood, Deputy Director, RIHPHC
Kevin Klyberg, Ranger, John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
Andrian Paquette, Curator, Slater Mill Museum

This tour explores the legacy of the Slater family and their formative role in American industrialization. In 1793, Samuel Slater built America’s first successful water-powered cotton spinning mill in Pawtucket. About fourteen years later, Samuel and his brother John created America’s first planned mill village in North Smithfield. Just as Slater Mill provided the prototype for the textile factory, the self-contained community of Slatersville—with its well-preserved mill, worker housing, church, and company stores—became a model for new industrial towns across the Blackstone Valley and along the east coast.

SOLD OUT B9 It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worsted Times: 200 Years of Woonsocket Architecture BUS TOUR SOLD OUT
Ray Bacon, Co-Director, Museum of Work and Culture
Jeffrey Emidy, Project Review Coordinator, RIHPHC

Led by two Woonsocket natives—one of whom literally wrote the book of Woonsocket history—this tour will provide an overview of the places where the city’s residents have lived, worked, worshipped, played, and rested eternally. Using the built and landscaped sites of Woonsocket, they will tell the story of the city’s development from 18th-century agricultural outlier to 20th-century textile center—and beyond. While primarily a bus tour, there will be some stops to explore sites on foot.

SESSION C: 3:45pm - 5:00pm


C1 Out and About in the Great Outdoors
Teresa Bisson, Programming Services Officer, R.I. Department of Environmental Management
Debra Reddy, Physical Education Teacher, Northern Lincoln Elementary School
Jan Reitsma, Executive Director, John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission

Join us for presentations about the unique combination of history, nature, education and recreation that we experience outdoors in the Blackstone Valley. Panelists will provide different perspectives on the value of these resources, and explore the opportunities and benefits that are created when multiple disciplines and constituencies form partnerships in pursuit of a common agenda. We will review federal and state initiatives that focus on the outdoors and discuss how the Blackstone Valley can both be a showcase for, and take advantage of, these initiatives.

C2 Ceremonial Landscapes & Battlefields at Nipsachuck in King Philip’s War, 1675-76
Doug Harris, Preservationist for Ceremonial Landscapes, Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office
Paul Robinson, Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Rhode Island College
Charlotte Taylor, Archaeologist, RIHPHC

This research collaboration between the R.I. Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office, and the Blackstone Valley Historical Society aims to identify and protect the King Philip’s War (1675-76) battlefield landscape at Nipsachuck in northern Rhode Island. Funded by the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service, the project examines the relationship between Nipsachuck as a place of indigenous ceremony and Nipsachuck as a place of war. Panelists will present their research and discuss the potential of such places and landscapes for education and tourism.

C3 Rehabilitating the Preservation Tax Credits
Joe Garlick, Executive Director, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley
Christian J. Ladds, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, LLB Architects
Val Talmage, Executive Director, Preserve Rhode Island
Scott Wolf, Executive Director, Grow Smart Rhode Island

In the past ten years, $1.3 billion was invested in renovating 208 historic buildings in Rhode Island. Since the State stopped new applications for historic rehab tax credits, preservationists have been working to restart the program. Pressure is mounting on the General Assembly to pass a new rehab tax credit in 2012. Catch up on recent projects in Pawtucket and Burrillville and get the latest news about what’s in this year’s bills, who’s pushing for passage from Mayors to Labor, and what you can do.

C4 It’s My Story Too: Youth-driven Heritage Programs
Elizabeth Bacon, Founding Director, This is MYCity!
Lisa Milano Kuffner, Co-creator, Ocean State Environmental Education Collaborative’s Central Falls Environmental Education Program
Bekah Greenwald Speck, Executive Director, RiverzEdge Arts Project
Rubby Wuabu and Alex Gicas, Creators, Worcester’s Blackstone Canal Horse and Wagon Tours

In Worcester, high school students developed a horse-drawn wagon tour to share the history of the Canal District, relating their perspectives as immigrants to the experiences of the Irish immigrants who built the Blackstone Canal and of the many who followed. In Woonsocket, local teens are applying hands-on training in design and interpretation to build a working canal lock and boat and to tell the story of communities of color in the Blackstone Valley. Learn why local youth have a lot to say about local history.

C5 Restoring Woonsocket Main Street: Recent Rehabs WALKING TOUR
Roberta Randall, Principal Historic Architect, RIHPHC
Al Valliere, Chairperson, Woonsocket Main Street Riverfront Initiative

The third Main Street walk visits several preservation and streetscape enhancement projects to demonstrate how these investments are improving Downtown Woonsocket and its riverfront, block by block. Sites may include Beacon Charter High School, Woonsocket Depot, Honan Block, Museum of Work and Culture, Falls Yarn Mill, and others.