Providence (population 173,618), the largest city in Rhode Island and the State capital, was founded by Roger Williams in 1636 as a haven for religious tolerance. During the colonial era, the city grew to be an important seaport and evolved into a leader in metals and textile manufacturing in the 19th century.
In the past several decades, Providence has undergone a renaissance, due in large part to its success in preserving and rehabilitating its historic assets. Its collection of historic properties is rich, diverse, and remarkably unspoiled; Benefit Street alone features more than 200 restored properties that span three centuries.
The city has supported numerous preservation initiatives, often in partnership with private and non-profit groups, including the Providence Preservation Society. The society has developed an award-winning educational program that teaches 3,000 to 4,000 students each year about the history and architectural heritage of Providence and Rhode Island.
The city is currently supporting development of the Heritage Harbor Museum in the historic South Street Power Plant. Consisting of a consortium of 19 historical and cultural organizations, the museum is slated to be Rhode Island's premiere statewide history museum and is expected to draw 300,000 visitors annually.
Designated a Preserve America Community in June 2004.