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Championing Career Development in Preservation Trades

Over the past year, NRF has explored ways in which we can have an impact in promoting the historic trades as a career path. Our talented Preservation Crew, several who have worked for NRF over 30 years, are an integral part of our organization and care for over 70 historic properties in and around Newport. Tradespeople (carpenters, masons, metal workers, etc.) play a critical role in ensuring historic properties are carefully and properly preserved. Unfortunately, the current generation of skilled craftspeople are aging out of the field. Fifty-five percent of all properties in Newport are considered historic, and are always in need of repair. Without trained tradespeople, historic properties owned by NRF and other organizations cannot be maintained.

The mission of the Historic Trades Initiative is to perpetuate and diversify the historic trades by creating strong connections with our community and sharing our expertise. The Initiative was developed through conversations with other preservation organizations, workforce training companies, and the local contractor community. Its focus is to raise awareness and offer training opportunities to create a robust workforce of people who specialize in the preservation trades. Working with national organizations including the National Park Service and Campaign for Historic Trades, as well as local contractors, NRF will launch several programs in 2022.

  • Tours through NRF properties and the carpentry mill for local tradespeople, vocational schools, and colleges to build awareness about our preservation initiatives.
  • Summer carpentry internships for students enrolled in related trades programs such as boat building and furniture making. Students will gain an understanding of how those skills are transferrable to the preservation field.
  • Upskill training program for individuals with basic carpentry or masonry skills who wish to specialize in preservation. Graduates will receive a certificate in the preservation trades from NRF.
  • Job shadowing for local residents who are interested in the trades but who do not have formal training. NRF will facilitate job shadowing with various local contractors.

We look forward to sharing updates as these programs get underway. For people with basic carpentry skills who are interested in learning more about historic trades, we invite you to consider applying for our 12-week paid summer internship. More details and application information are available here.

By Kris Turgeon, Trades Initiative Manager, Newport Restoration Foundation

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