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Keeping History Above Water: St. Augustine Conference Announced

More Information:
Meaghan Barry
401–846–4152, x 112 /

The Newport Restoration Foundation, together with Flagler College, the University of Florida, and the City of St. Augustine, is pleased to announce that the third Keeping History Above Water conference will take place May 5-8, 2019 in St. Augustine, Florida. The international gathering of preservation, urban planning, economic development, cultural heritage, and climate science experts will address the impacts of climate change, particularly sea level rise, on communities throughout the world.

The Newport Restoration Foundation organized and hosted the first Keeping History Above Water conference in April 2016 in Newport, Rhode Island.  The second conference, held in Annapolis, Maryland in October 2017, advanced the discussion of coastal heritage and sea level rise. Now, the conference travels to Florida to assist other communities that face similar issues.

For the partner organizations who will host Keeping History Above Water: St. Augustine, this conference is just the latest effort to address current and future climate impacts on this vulnerable part of the state. Flagler College has been active on this issue for several years, having first launched a program series during the 2015-2016 academic year to bring national experts on sea level rise to speak to the community. Following that series, public programs were implemented in St. Augustine, Sarasota, Pensacola, and Tallahassee. The City of St. Augustine has successfully secured grants from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and FEMA to begin to address sea level rise. The University of Florida and the Florida Climate Institute partnered with the City and Flagler College in 2018 to develop resilience opportunities to address properties damaged through Hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Irma (2017).  The partners were represented at KHAW: Annapolis in 2017.

Keeping History Above Water: St. Augustine will take place at the historic Casa Monica Hotel. The four day program will include local tours, educational workshops, panel sessions, and student poster sessions.  Keynote speakers include Amy Longsworth, Director of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission and Donovan Rypkema, Founder and Principal of Place Economics of Washington, D.C.

Early sponsors and partners include the National Park Service, Union of Concerned Scientists, US/ICOMOS, National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, Florida Climate Institute, Florida National Guard, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Visitor and Convention Bureau.

Keeping History Above Water is an initiative of the Newport Restoration Foundation started in April 2016 to address the challenges posed to historic buildings and neighborhoods by sea level rise and increasing coastal storm activity. The initial conference emphasized practical approaches to protecting historic built environments in both the near and long term, at individual building, infrastructure, and policy levels. Newport Restoration Foundation has an ongoing interest in advancing knowledge related to sea level rise, not just in Newport, but in other historic coastal communities across the country.  It is NRF’s intent to continue Keeping History Above Water to advance public understanding, expand the conversation nationally and globally, and develop solutions to the problems climate change imposes on cultural heritage resources. For more information on Keeping History Above Water, visit  For more information about the Newport Restoration Foundation, visit

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