Who We Are
The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) was established in 1956 to respond to the proposed demolition of a number of 18th- and early 19th-century houses on College Hill. Unlike many historic preservation organizations that were formed to preserve a particular building, PPS has always been an advocate for neighborhood revitalization. From that small neighborhood group, PPS has grown into a multifaceted citywide preservation and planning organization.
We’ve always believed that quality design contributes to a better quality of place, but we increasingly understand that improvement for some doesn’t mean improvement for all. Our reputation was built on revitalizing a historic neighborhood in Providence, which had profound consequences for many people in that neighborhood who lacked resources and power, many of whom were people of color. We are working to acknowledge and accept the preservation movement’s role in displacing vulnerable populations and in upholding a legacy of white supremacy. More than ever, our work as a preservation organization must be about learning better ways to work with and support established communities.
Our mission is to improve Providence by advocating for historic preservation and the enhancement of the city’s unique character through thoughtful design and planning.
PPS is a 501(c)3 non-profit membership organization. Our advocacy work is founded on knowledge of design and planning, and relies on a vast network of relationships and robust communications. Members serve as volunteers, advisers, advocates, and connectors. As of 2020, we counted more than 500 member households in Providence, throughout Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, and beyond. People who love Providence’s outstanding architecture are drawn to support PPS, the only organization that advocates for its preservation and compatible new design.
A Statement of our Values
We respect the past and take the long view.
We believe the historic fabric of our city is intrinsic to Providence’s special identity, and decisions made about the current built environment must respect and complement that identity. The core of this is stewardship. Our decisions should be considered in the context of the architectural legacy that we have inherited and the legacy we will leave for those in the future.
We value the whole city.
Citizens deserve a city that is pleasant, safe and well maintained, and residents deserve neighborhoods that foster their sense of wellbeing. We believe these traits of a great city are nurtured by preserving places of architectural and historical significance. Preservation sustains the distinctive cultural histories and unique character of our neighborhoods and downtown districts.
We value design excellence.
We believe that all development should conform to the best practices of current urban planning and environmental awareness. New construction should be informed by enduring design principles, honoring the craftsmanship and beauty of our finest historic buildings.
We value partnership and collaboration.
The design of Providence’s future cannot be the work of a single organization or of preservationists alone. We know we can accomplish more by working with others who share concern for our city’s environment, economic development, and neighborhood vitality. And we recognize the intrinsic relationship between these concerns and the quality of the places where citizens live, work, learn, and gather.
We recognize the complexity of our mission.
Successful preservation requires considerable knowledge and a variety of skills. We must include planners, developers, real estate professionals, financing experts, and city officials, as well as architects and cultural historians, and patiently work to build coalitions of stakeholders. Underpinning these efforts are the commitment and invaluable contributions of our professional staff and volunteers.
The 1769 Old Brick School House
24 Meeting Street
Providence, RI 02903 (map)
email the office
PPS is a proud member of the National Preservation Partners Network, which advances the growth and effectiveness of the organized preservation movement through communication, education, training, and a common advocacy agenda.