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A Brief History of the History Project

In January, 1995, Arnold Robinson, then Director of the Providence Preservation Society, met with the SNA Board and proposed that the two organizations work together to nominate Summit Neighborhood to the National Register of Historic Places.

Early Legwork

The project commenced that Spring. With materials, training and expertise from PPS, the SNA recruited volunteers from the neighborhood to research, photograph and write architectural descriptions of each house in the survey area. Casting a wide net, the initial survey area encompassed nearly 1100 houses.

Each year PPS conducted a training session to aquaint new volunteers with the process of preservation research. Using old maps and directories, they tackled one street - one house - at a time. The Rochambeau Library became the project's home.

The researchers' task was to identify the year each house was built, and note the name and vocation of the owner. Most buildings were easily located in city directories from the time. But street name changes, house renumberings, and the occasional really old house kept the volunteers on their toes.

The National Register nomination requires a black and white photograph of the front facade of each contributing house. Board member Judy Brown photographed nearly every house in the survey area. Film was donated by Pat Zacks of Camera Werks and by former Board member Sterling Vernon. Colorlab (now Abar) donated half the cost of processing (the SNA picked up the rest).

The final task put to the volunteers was to produce an architectural description of each house. A handful of dedicated volunteers got a crash course in 20th Century architecture, and set to work on Judy's photographs.

Phase Two

By the beginning of 1999, the original volunteer effort came to a close. More than 30 volunteers had researched 60% of the area, photographed nearly all of it and made a start on the architectural descriptions. It was getting hard to find new volunteers, and, after 4 years, it seemed like it was time to move the project into a new phase.

The following year, both Arnold Robinson and Assistant Director Kent Millard (who had shepherded the project for several years) left their posts at PPS. The Summit nomination was handed off to Projects Director Fred Stachura. By the end of 2000, PPS had secured a Certified Local Government (CLG) grant, administered through the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC). With funding in place to hire a consultant to complete the nomination, the project was again poised to move forward.

This Page Last Updated: Mon Aug 13 23:10:34 2001