Rhode Island has a great legacy of historic and prehistoric sites, buildings, structures and districts. Statewide, over 50,000 buildings of historic interest have been identified; of these, about 20,000 meet the criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and the State Register. Archaeological sites representing 10,000 years of Rhode Island history are also numerous: over 2,000 sites are recorded.
These properties constitute a collection of reminders of the way that the state and the country developed. From sites yielding evidence of prehistoric encampments, to eighteenth-century farms, to commercial buildings of the early twentieth century, our history can be traced by what remains on the landscape. The preservation of these resources helps us to retain our sense of history and community. It also aids in the education of our children and our new residents by showing them, through the history embodied in their everyday surroundings, the depth and breadth of our common heritage.
All of these historical resources—the tangible legacy of our state's past—can be altered or destroyed when local, state, or federal projects go forward without consideration for project impacts to significant historic properties. The Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission Project Review System addresses this critical planning need.
The RIHPHC is responsible for reviewing projects carried out or sponsored by federal, state and municipal agencies to ensure compliance with federal and state historic preservation laws and regulations. The RIHPHC’s project review staff advises and assists applicants in determining if their projects will impact significant resources and, if so, how to address and resolve those effects. If your project is receiving federal or state funds, permits or licenses, or is on federal, state or municipal property, your project may need to be reviewed by our staff.
Federal and federally-sponsored programs and projects are reviewed under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires federal agencies or applicants for federal funds, permits or licenses to consider the effects of their undertaking on historic properties (i.e. those listed in or eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places). Projects that are funded, permitted or licensed by the State of Rhode Island require project review under the State Historic Preservation Act. Projects undertaken by any municipality that may have an effect on a historic property also require review by the RIHPHC under the State Historic Preservation Act.
Initiating Consultation with the RIHPHC
The RIHPHC encourages agencies and applicants for federal and state assistance to initiate consultation for project review during preliminary project planning before designs are finalized. Early consultation enables adequate time to successfully complete reviews well in advance of construction and will facilitate permit or funding approvals. When planning to submit a project for review, note that by law the RIHPHC is allowed 30 days to respond to requests for project review.
To initiate project review with the RIHPHC, submit the following information:
• Cover letter that includes the project location (address and Plat/Lot), a statement of the project purpose and need, project description, a list of federal and/or state funding/permitting sources, and information regarding the current and historic use of the property
• Map(s) clearly indicating the project area and/or limits of ground disturbance
• Project plans
• Clear photographs of the affected resource(s)
• If the project will impact a historic property, include a discussion of how the impact can be avoided or minimized
Project review submissions may be sent via email to Elizabeth Totten. You can contact her at 401-222-2671.