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Strawbery Banke Museum, the City of Portsmouth, New Hampshire Planning Department and DPW Water | Wastewater | Stormwater Division, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Earth Systems Research Center, and the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) are proud to co-host Keeping History Above Water® (KHAW) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on May 7-9, 2023 at the AC Hotel Portsmouth Downtown/Waterfront.

KHAW® was founded in 2016 by NRF to foster a national conversation focused on the increasing and varied risks posed by sea level rise to historic coastal communities. KHAW programs, conferences, and workshops focus on protecting historic buildings, landscapes, and neighborhoods from the increasing threat of inundation.

As one of the oldest port cities in the nation, Portsmouth has faced sea-borne challenges from the start. As its most historic neighborhoods and treasures find themselves increasingly threatened by sea level rise, more frequent flooding, and groundwater infiltration, the City, UNH, and Strawbery Banke Museum, a living history museum at the heart of that neighborhood – and at the lowest point in the city – are working together to collect data and test solutions.

KHAW: Portsmouth is designed to showcase the latest flood and climate data, discuss strategies and identify best practices, and bring new information to the dialogues on the impacts of sea level rise, recurrent flooding and climate change on historic resources begun at previous conferences. We seek to foster the discussion of how communities can adapt research data into actionable solutions and anticipate attracting presenters and attendees especially from the New England states.

Preservationists, public historians, museum professionals, archaeologists, planners, floodplain managers, engineers, architects, landscape architects, artists, conservationists, environmental justice advocates, government officials, property owners, resilience officers and other stakeholders are invited to submit session proposals.

Sessions may be individual presentations, panel discussions, or workshops, and will generally be scheduled to last 30 or 60 minutes. Please indicate in your proposal the length of your session.

We welcome proposals related to the theme “Water Has a Memory: Preserving Historic Port Cities from Sea Level Rise.” We specifically encourage sessions that:

  • Highlight adaptation, mitigation, and resilience strategies currently being employed to protect historic resources around New England
  • Showcase projects that encourage public outreach/education and/or attempt to effect positive change in the greater community
  • Discuss municipal concerns and processes for engaging stakeholders: residents, businesses, nonprofits and City government
  • Offer models for collaborative, “real world” solutions
  • Provide insights on resources and best management practices that foster affordable and equitable answers to sea level rise impacts on private and public assets.

Proposals should be submitted as Microsoft Word documents to by 5 p.m. on December 10, 2022. Visit for more information. Submit questions to the conference organizer, Stephanie Seacord at Sessions will be selected by early January 2023.

“Doris Duke did a wonderful thing fifty-some years ago when she preserved these Colonial houses,” he said. “Here we are 50 years later, and it is our responsibility to ensure that the work she did is not lost. To do for Newport a second time what she did for Newport the first time — to save these Colonial properties.” – Mark Thompson, Executive Director, Newport Restoration Foundation

Many thanks to The New York Times for spotlighting the efforts NRF and many others are taking to Keep History Above Water in their piece,  ‘We Cannot Save Everything’: A Historic Neighborhood Confronts Rising Seas. 

Click here to read the article online.

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