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Historic Preservation

At Roger Williams University, we believe that preservation is about people and place as much as it is about history.

We offer a four-year Bachelor of Science, a two-year Master of Science, and a combined, accelerated 4 + 1 (five-year) B.S./M.S. dual degree in Historic Preservation. A minor in Historic Preservation is offered for students in other undergraduate programs. In cooperation with the School of Law, we also offer a unique Juris Doctor/Master of Science in Historic Preservation.

Historic preservation, which is also called built heritage conservation or the conservation of the historic environment, seeks to identify and conserve the historical authenticity of buildings, landscapes, and places for the benefit of human well-being. The primary activities in the field are the identification, treatment, and protection of these historic resources, and ways that these activities can be planned. While historic preservation has traditionally focused on buildings and places, contemporary approaches are increasingly interested in how people are affected by historic places and ways that the field can be redefined with the specific goal of benefitting people. As such, historic preservation is inherently interdisciplinary, incorporating broad aspects of the humanities (e.g. history, anthropology, environmental psychology, architecture) and science (e.g., materials science, engineering).

Historic preservation professionals work in four main areas: 1) planning, compliance, and environmental protection; 2) design and materials conservation; 3) historic site and museum management and interpretation; and 4) advocacy, downtown revitalization (e.g., Main Street), and community development.

Examples of our students' work are on RWU's Research and Scholarship site.

The Historic Preservation program at RWU has several unique aspects that set it apart from the competition:

  • The first undergraduate historic preservation program (established in 1976) and one of the oldest programs in the country
  • Some of North America's oldest and most historic cities, dating back to the 17th century, are at our doorstep
  • Partnerships with prominent preservation organizations in the country whose work is globally recognized
  • International connections
  • Extensive community engagement and field work
  • Full-time faculty dedicated to 100% teaching in the historic preservation program
  • Successful, renown practitioners delivering course content
  • Understanding people and their interaction with historic places through the social sciences (e.g., anthropology, sociology, environmental psychology)
  • Architectural conservation (scientific and craft/trades approaches to conserving buildings and materials)
  • Heritage management (tangible and intangible)
  • Extensive alumni network spanning nearly four decades

The Historic Preservation Program is a member of the National Council for Preservation Education.

Historic Preservation Mission Statement

Internships

  • Albert Michaels Conservation
  • Adirondack Architectural Heritage
  • Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust
  • Harpers Ferry, National Park Service
  • Higgins Armory and Museum
  • Historic Charleston Foundation
  • The Hopi Foundation
  • Lyndhurst, National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Preservation Action
  • Preservation Massachusetts
  • Providence Planning Department
  • Strawberry Banke Museum

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Employers

Government agencies

  • General Services Administration
  • National Park Service
  • State Historic Preservation Offices

Non-profit organizations

  • Indiana Landmarks
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • New York Landmarks Conservancy
  • US/International Council on Monuments and Sites

Historic sites

  • Fairmount Park
  • Preservation Society of Newport County
  • Mystic Seaport
  • Slater Mill Historic Site

Private practice

  • Capital Properties
  • Goody-Clancy Architects
  • Design and Construction

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Local and Regional Resources

The Historic Preservation Program's location near some of North America's oldest and most historic communities, such as Newport (founded in 1639), Bristol (settled in 1680), Providence (founded in 1636), and Boston (founded in 1620), provide students with ample opportunities to put their studies into practice with field-based workshops, assignments, and internships with local, regional, national, and international organizations and firms. Students in the program have access to the following local and regional organizations, among many other possibilities:

  • Newport Historical Society (1,500 linear feet of manuscript materials from the 17th to the 20th century, such as ships’ logs, papers from some of the country’s most influential people, early African-American history) — Employed in archival research class, The Newport Seminae, past group projects, and advanced research.
  • Bristol Historical and Preservation Society (materials from the 17th to the 20th century, such as ships' logs, papers from the Bristol-Cuba slave trade, family records, and maps) — Employed in archival research class and for advanced research.
  • Providence City Archives (40,000 cubic feet of records from 1636 to the present, including vital and probate records, house and city directories, local census data, deed books, and maps and atlases) — Employed in archival research class and for advanced research.
  • Rhode Island Historical Society (5,000 cubic feet of materials encompassing over a thousand separate collections including military records from the American Revolution and the Civil War) — Employed in archival research class and for advanced research.
  • Rhode Island Supreme Court Judicial Records Center (judicial records from 1671 to 1900) — Employed in archival research class, in conjunction with RIDOT
  • Public Archaeology Laboratory (New England's largest cultural resource management firm) — Students have interned and many alum have worked at PAL
  • Grow Smart Rhode Island (advocates sustainable economic growth based on Rhode Island’s quality of place, including its historic environment) — We have engaged through lecturers, site-specific projects, involvement in biannual conference
  • Providence Preservation Society (preservation advocacy non-profit)
  • Preserve Rhode Island (statewide preservation advocacy non-profit) — Internship and employment with students/alum; ongoing involvement on projects via work-study and dngraduate assistantship positions
  • Preservation Society of Newport County (preserves and interprets a collection of significant mansions from the Gilded Age) — Recent graduate seminar offered a and hosted by PSNC; graduate assistantships in several departments
  • Historic New England (one of the country’s oldest preservation organizations, founded in 1910 by William Sumner Appleton) — We have hosted two recent regional symposia with HNE.
  • Commerce RI (state of Rhode Island department focusing on economic development in partnership with RWU Community Partnership Center) — Recent, site-specific work ahs been conducted through a graduate workshop

In addition, students have access the following institutes, centers, and archives at Roger Williams University for their historic preservation work:

University Archives (collections related to the history of the university, architecture, and local manuscripts and newspapers)

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Jeremy C. Wells, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation

Ph.D. Clemson University
M.S. University of Pennsylvania
B.S. Southeast Missouri State University

View Curriculum Vitae »
Contact Information
(401) 254-5338
AR 253
Areas of Expertise: 
Historic Preservation/Heritage Conservation, World Heritage, Preservation Law, Community Planning, Place Attachment, Environmental Design and Behavior Research, Social Science Methods

Jeremy C. Wells

Jeremy C.
Wells
Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation

Ph.D. Clemson University
M.S. University of Pennsylvania
B.S. Southeast Missouri State University

sites/default/files/faculty-staff/cv/jeremy_wells_-_curriculum_vitae.p.pdf
Contact Information
(401) 254-5338
AR 253
Areas of Expertise: 
Historic Preservation/Heritage Conservation, World Heritage, Preservation Law, Community Planning, Place Attachment, Environmental Design and Behavior Research, Social Science Methods

We know that people like historic buildings, places, and landscapes. Quantitatively, we also know that everyday people--across the planet--spend large sums of money engaging in heritage tourism. In surveys, the majority of people support saving historic buildings and places. Yet, most people do not self-identify as “historic preservationists”. Why?

We also know that people like natural or "wild" places; in fact, many of the reasons that people like historic places seem to also hold true for natural places as well. As a concept, "conservation" has very similar goals for historic and natural environments. Yet, historic preservationists and environmentalists don't often work effectively together. Why?

What if we were to conserve all human-experienced environments under the common concept of "place"? A focus on "place conservation" recognizes that nearly all environments have some combination of cultural and natural elements and that everyday people don't separate the two into discrete concepts when experiencing a place.

Arnold Robinson, AICP
Director, Community Partnerships Center

B.A. Bates, M.A. Boston University

View Curriculum Vitae »
Contact Information
x3307
AR 239
Areas of Expertise: 
Historic Preservation, Architecture, Community Participation

Arnold Robinson

Arnold
Robinson
AICP
Director, Community Partnerships Center

B.A. Bates, M.A. Boston University

sites/default/files/faculty-staff/cv/robinson_cv_2011.pdf
Contact Information
x3307
AR 239
Areas of Expertise: 
Historic Preservation, Architecture, Community Participation
Philip C. Marshall
Professor of Historic Preservation

B.A. Brown University
M.S. University of Vermont

View Curriculum Vitae »
Contact Information
x3061
AR 247
Areas of Expertise: 
Historic Preservation

Philip C. Marshall

Philip C.
Marshall
Professor of Historic Preservation

B.A. Brown University
M.S. University of Vermont

sites/default/files/faculty-staff/cv/marshall_cv_2011.pdf
Contact Information
x3061
AR 247
Areas of Expertise: 
Historic Preservation

Philip Marshall has consulted and taught in the field of preservation for thirty years. Mr. Marshall has combined two undergraduate degrees (in geology and studio art) from Brown University and a M.S. in Historic Preservation from the University of Vermont with field experience in construction and conservation.

Since 1980, Mr. Marshall has held faculty positions in graduate and undergraduate preservation programs at the University of Vermont, Columbia University, Swain School of Design, Southeastern Massachusetts University (UMass Dartmouth) and Roger Williams University, since 1990, where he is tenured as a full professor.

In his capacity as an advisor to Heritage Preservation, Mr. Marshall has undertaken architectural conservation assessments for many organizations including the Newport Historical Society, Rhode Island Historical Society, and the Paul Revere House.

Hasan-Uddin Khan
Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Historic Preservation

Diploma, Architectural Association, London
Registered Architect

View Curriculum Vitae »
Contact Information
x3601
AR 240
Areas of Expertise: 
Architecture/Historic Preservation/International Architecture and Conservation

Hasan-Uddin Khan

Hasan-Uddin
Khan
Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Historic Preservation

Diploma, Architectural Association, London
Registered Architect

sites/default/files/faculty-staff/cv/khan_2011_cv.pdf
Contact Information
x3601
AR 240
Areas of Expertise: 
Architecture/Historic Preservation/International Architecture and Conservation

I consider myself a modern nomad who believes in crossing boundaries – both geographic and disciplinary. I was born in India, grew up in Pakistan, studied architecture in England, worked and lived in several countries, and travelled all over the world.

I graduated as an architect from the Architectural Association, London, in 1972, in the era of the Beatles and the Vietnam War. I was lucky enough to study with and be influenced by Keith Critchlow, Elia Zenghelis, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Peter Cook and the Archigram group, John Turner and Paul Oliver. This gave me a wide perspective of views that has stayed with me. I worked in London for Payette Associates and then returned to Karachi, Pakistan, to my own architectural and planning firm UNIT 4, between 1974 and ’76.

Gail Fenske, Ph.D.
Professor of Architecture

B.Arch. Arizona State University
M.S. Arch., Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Registered Architect

Contact Information
x3640
AR 242
Areas of Expertise: 
Architecture/History of Modern Architecture/History of American Architecture/Skyscrapers

Gail Fenske

Gail
Fenske
Ph.D.
Professor of Architecture

B.Arch. Arizona State University
M.S. Arch., Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Registered Architect

Contact Information
x3640
AR 242
Areas of Expertise: 
Architecture/History of Modern Architecture/History of American Architecture/Skyscrapers

Gail Fenske teaches subjects in the history of modern European architecture and American architecture.  Her lecture courses and seminars emphasize architecture’s intersection with broader cultural contexts, among them urban, technological, and visual, with the latter incorporating the fine arts, photography, and film.

She is author of The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York (University of Chicago Press, 2008) and co-editor of Aalto and America (Yale University Press, 2012).  She is currently preparing Skyscrapers for publication with the Library of Congress and W. W Norton & Company.  She is also the author of several essays in books, among them The American Skyscraper: Cultural Histories (Cambridge University Press, 2005), The Landscape of Modernity (John Hopkins University Press, 1997), and The Education of the Architect (MIT Press, 1997).

Sara A. Butler, Ph.D.
Professor of Art and Architectural History

B.A. Wake Forest University
M.S.T. University of New Hampshire
B.Arch. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
M.Arch.H., Ph.D. University of Virginia

View Curriculum Vitae »
Contact Information
x3415
AR 254
Areas of Expertise: 
Art and Architectural History/Historic Preservation

Sara A. Butler

Sara A.
Butler
Ph.D.
Professor of Art and Architectural History

B.A. Wake Forest University
M.S.T. University of New Hampshire
B.Arch. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
M.Arch.H., Ph.D. University of Virginia

sites/default/files/faculty-staff/cv/butler_cv_2011.pdf
Contact Information
x3415
AR 254
Areas of Expertise: 
Art and Architectural History/Historic Preservation

Sara Butler is Associate Professor of Art and Architectural History at Roger Williams University, where she teaches courses on the history of American architecture, history of American art, and the history of landscape architecture. Butler earned a Ph.D. in Architectural History from the University of Virginia. She co-authored University of Virginia, The Campus Guide and was a contributing author and assistant editor for the Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, a volume in the Buildings of the United States series sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians.