Press Release

A highlight of speakers and topics

National and International Experts to Speak on Sea Level Rise and Historic Preservation

Keeping History Above Water includes speakers from Union of Concerned Scientists, National Park Service, the National Trust, US/ICOMOS, universities, city, and state governments

 March 9, 2016, Newport, RI – Keeping History Above Water, the Newport Restoration Foundation’s groundbreaking conference on sea level rise and its impact on historic preservation (April 10-13), will feature speakers from around the country and around the world, including experts on climate change, city planning, architecture, disaster management, and preservation.

Keynote addresses will be given by US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI); Mary Rowe, former Executive Vice President of the Municipal Art Society (NY); Adam Markham, Deputy Director of Climate and Energy for the Union of Concerned Scientists; and Tom Dawson, Manager of Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion.

Major institutions and organizations represented include the National Park Service, US/ICOMOS, FEMA, the Gullah/Geechee Nation of South Carolina’s Sea Islands, Galveston Historical Foundation, South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Academia will be represented by speakers from Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, Boston University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Waterloo (Ontario, CA), and Islamic Azad University (Iran).

Speakers will also be drawn from the ranks of city and state governments in areas at the forefront of sea level rise, such as Rhode Island; Fernandina Beach, FL; the State of Maryland and City of Annapolis; New HampshireMarin County, CA; and Rotterdam, Netherlands. The four-day conference will include over 40 presenters and more than two-dozen keynote addresses, panel discussions, tours, and workshops.

“Leaders from many different disciplines are joining us from around the globe because they recognize that this is a historic opportunity to facilitate change,” said Newport Restoration Foundation Executive Director Pieter N. Roos. “The caliber and breadth of our speaker line-up demonstrates just how important these issues of sea level rise and historic preservation are to so many people and communities. We’re honored and humbled to be able to convene some of the brightest minds working in these fields today.”

“Keeping History Above Water is important because it will provide an opportunity for many of us literally living on the front shorelines of the loss of cultural heritage to network with one another,” said Queen Quet Marquetta L. Goodwine, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation of South Carolina’s St. Helena Island. “The world needs to be made more aware of the historical and cultural landscapes that could end up being relegated to legend if we do not seek preventative measures to protect and preserve them.”

Mason Andrews, Associate Professor of Architecture at Hampton University, added, “This is the first conference I’ve encountered seeking answers to and exchanging insights into the many challenges of adapting historic districts so they can endure into the next century and beyond.”

Keynote speaker Tom Dawson sees this as a confluence of ideas and efforts that are happening concurrently around the world. “In Scotland, we’ve long been thinking about the problems that coastal processes can cause to historic sites,” he explained. “Keeping History Above Water will be a major international showcase where we can share ideas and knowledge, and also learn from others.”

Keeping History Above Water takes place Sunday, April 10 through Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at the Marriott in Newport, Rhode Island. The complete program is available online. Deadline to register is March 20. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

About Newport Restoration Foundation
Founded in 1968, the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and maintaining Aquidneck Island’s 18th- and 19th-century architectural heritage and the fine and decorative arts collections of Doris Duke. NRF is on Twitter @NPTRestoration and Facebook /NPTRestoration.

NRF hosts Keeping History Above Water in partnership with Roger Williams University; Salve Regina University; the Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island; Preserve Rhode Island; The National Trust for Historic Preservation; and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Funding has been provided by AIG, D.F. Dwyer InsuranceNewport Hospitality GroupSlocum, Gordon & Co. LLP , Bowen’s Wharf CompanyRoger Williams University, and Salve Regina University. A case study of possible mitigation measures for one of NRF’s 18th-century properties will be presented as a central educational component of the conference, thanks to funding from the R.I. Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (RIHPHC), the City of Newport, and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation.