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Grants Effectiveness: Rhode Island

All of Rhode Island's Preserve America projects have directly addressed heritage tourism and economic development and public history education and partnerships.  None of these projects could have been implemented without the Preserve America Grant funding. Based on our experience to date, Preserve America fills a gap in the national historic preservation program that cannot be met otherwise.
-- Edward F. Sanderson, Executive Director, Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission

Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, "The Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution." A grant enabled 24 Preserve America Communities in the Blackstone River Valley to develop a sustainable heritage tourism program.
Twenty of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns have been designated as Preserve America Communities, and more than half of those have received the benefits of Preserve America Grants. The success of the Preserve America Grant program in Rhode Island is seen in the cross community collaboration and the variety of programming supporting heritage tourism and preservation. The Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (the State Historic Preservation Office) has taken the lead in the creative use of the grants for these purposes.

The Preserve America Grants allow multiple communities to collaborate on single projects. In Rhode Island, two grants have utilized this technique to develop programs that can reach a broader audience. The Blackstone Valley “Footsteps in History” grant project supported the development of a sustainable heritage tourism program in 24 Preserve America Communities across both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The grant led to the creation of an annual, weekend heritage event, “Footsteps in History,” during which more than 70 historic sites are open to the public across 24 communities. The grant also led to the development of marketing and branding tools that will help sustain heritage tourism in the region. A multi-community second grant is the “Broad Street Corridor Revitalization” project, a collaboration between the Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Cumberland Preserve America Communities. The Broad Street Corridor is an area containing historic residential and commercial development that runs through all three communities.  Through the Preserve America Grant, the communities are developing strategies for revitalization in the corridor by drawing on their heritage assets. One event assisting in this revitalization is the International Food Tour, a weekly event that allows individuals to learn about and sample the variety of ethnic cuisines in the area.

Preserve America Grants awarded to Rhode Island explore a variety of programming ideas that support heritage tourism as well as the continued viability of their historic resources to contribute to such programs. The Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission received a grant for the “Historic Sites Coalition of Rhode Island – Business Planning Project,” which will be administered in cooperation with Preserve Rhode Island.

A Preserve America Grant supports development of a Master Plan for historic Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island.

Through the grant, five historic sites in the Historic Sites Coalition of Rhode Island will obtain well-researched business plans. The grant also allows for the development of a model business plan for all 50 historic sites in the coalition. This will increase the effectiveness and aid in the sustainability of the historic sites.

The “Historic Fort Adams Master Plan” grant will assess the public use potential of the property to aid in the long term preservation and enhancement of the fort. Fort Adams has already received some “bricks and mortar” assistance from other sources. This grant will provide needed information to assess structural integrity, implement fundraising, and develop interpretation materials to better incorporate the fort into the vital tourist industry of Newport, Rhode Island.

The Preserve America Grants awarded in Rhode Island promote heritage resources across the entire state, assisting communities in their heritage tourism, education, and historic preservation planning. The cross community collaboration and variety of programming will assist in the sustainability of heritage tourism programs in the state.

Posted June 23, 2009

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