The Historic New England Summit Engages in New Modes of Preservation

From sustainable urban planning to inclusive placemaking, industry leaders gather in Providence


A stroll around any given neighborhood of Providence is sure to reveal glimpses of historic preservation work in action, whether you’re passing by a plaque house or a revitalized and repurposed building. One such site is The VETS; a stone’s throw away from the Rhode Island State House, the performance venue is on the National Register of Historic Places and has seen a slew of notable musicians and artists take the stage inside. On November 2 and 3, it will host a series of programming fitting for its roots in preservation: the Historic New England Summit.

The largest independent preservation organization in the country, Historic New England embraces the multidisciplinary nature of the field. “We bring together thought-leaders in public history, urban planning, architecture and design, arts and culture, education, philanthropy, civic engagement, policy, and more to discuss a broad cross-section of urgent, vital issues impacting the livability of communities throughout New England and beyond,” says Carissa Demore, team leader for preservation services at the Boston-based nonprofit.

The two-day event will spark conversations navigating today’s challenges and opportunities in rethinking modes of preservation, encouraging meaningful engagement and forging new connections. In-person attendees can meet up during networking receptions throughout the Summit.

“The Summit is designed to reflect issues that are timely for a broad range of communities, from large urban centers to small rural towns,” says Demore. “Providence is an incredible host city for this year’s conference, as its scale, history, preservation, and robust cultural network showcase the important role of historic preservation in creating better places to live and work.”

A handful of Rhode Island speakers will also be in attendance, “addressing topics from cultural connectivity and inclusive placemaking to affordable housing and the future of cities,” Demore continues. Marta V. Martínez, founder and executive director of RI Latino Arts, and Tomaquag Museum executive director Lorén M. Spears will be part of a Placemaking in Action panel. Mayor Brett Smiley; Carla DeStefano, executive director of SWAP, Inc.; Brown University president Christina H. Paxson; and Carrie Zaslow, executive director of Providence Revolving Fund will also speak.

“Attendees will leave with new ideas and inspiration, as well as a stronger network so the conversations that begin at the Summit can lead to collaboration and action in communities across the region,” says Demore. “Each session brings together unexpected voices and topics that are highly relevant to creating more inclusive, forward-looking, and sustainable communities.” To register, visit



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