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As a leader in the preservation of early American architecture, the Newport Restoration Foundation is responding to the threat of climate change through its Keeping History Above Water initiative – which brings interdisciplinary conferences and workshops, related to climate and cultural heritage, to vulnerable regions across the country.

Keeping History Above Water

Located at 74 Bridge Street in the historic waterfront Point Neighborhood of Newport RI, the Christopher Townsend House serves as NRF's case-study in resiliency measures for historic homes. Its development has been a collaborative effort between NRF and architects from across the region.

The newest addition to NRF’s architectural collection sits at the lowest elevation in the Point Neighborhood and has a history of flooding. In recent years, Hurricane Sandy, storm water runoff, and high tides have all caused significant flooding of the basement and first floor.

Graduate students at neighboring universities bring fresh thinking to NRF through the Keeping History Above Water initiative — with innovative ideas for how to protect built heritage in a changing climate.

Since the inaugural conference, Keeping History Above Water convenings have been held in Annapolis and Palo Alto and have expanded to include a variety of activities related to climate and cultural heritage, with an emphasis on practical approaches to protecting historic built environments.

Keeping History Above Water began as an idea to explore the intersection of historic preservation and climate impacts. The first conference was held in Newport in 2016 and brought together experts in climate science, heritage preservation, and community engagement.

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