Heritage Corridor NEWS
Heritage In America's Great Outdoors
Blackstone Valley: 
From Heritage Corridor To National Park
Stadium Theatre
Saturday, April 21 At 9 AM



The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor (JHCBRVNHC) and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) present "Heritage in America's Great Outdoors," a public presentation at the historic Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket on Saturday, April 21, from 9:00 - 10:45am. The free event includes an illustrated lecture by Dr. Stephanie Smith Toothman, the Associate Director for Cultural Resources of the National Park Service, as well as opening remarks by Mayor Leo T. Fontaine of Woonsocket, Maia Farish of Roger Williams University, and Edward F. Sanderson of the RIHPHC.


In the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, the National Park Service has partnered with residents for the last 25 years to preserve and celebrate the region's heritage. Last fall, bills were filed in the United States Senate and House to create a new national historical park which would encompass the Blackstone River and its tributaries; the Blackstone Canal; Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket; the historic mill villages of Slatersville and Ashton, Rhode Island; and Whitinsville and Hopedale in Massachusetts. The proposed legislation is under consideration in this session of Congress.


Dr. Toothman's lecture, "Heritage in America's Great Outdoors," will place the Blackstone River Valley park bid in the broader perspective of the National Park Service's century-long commitment to preserving America's cultural and natural heritage. While the roots of the NPS lie in majestic natural wonders and in places that represent our cultural heritage, its reach now extends to places hard to imagine 100 years ago-into urban centers, across rural landscapes, deep within oceans, and across night skies. Dr. Toothman will help us envision the National Park Service's second century-where new initiatives harness the collective power of the parks, historic preservation programs, and natural heritage areas and where new partnerships leverage additional resources. The Blackstone Valley offers excellent examples of these new approaches.


Appointed Associate Director for Cultural Resources at the National Park Service in 2010, Dr. Toothman is responsible for policies that affect the management of historic and cultural properties in all 394 national parks, including 27,000 historic structures, nearly 70,000 archaeological sites, and the largest system of museums in the world. She oversees the NPS's many community preservation programs for federal, tribal, state, and local governments and nonprofits. Toothman also directs initiatives including grants, the $5 billion tax credit program, outreach programs, and documentation programs. She manages the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, National Heritage Areas program, and Technical Preservation Services. Before embarking on her 34-year career with the National Park Service, Toothman graduated from Smith College and received her doctorate in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.


RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission


The free morning presentation at the Stadium Theatre kicks off the day-long 27th Annual Rhode Island Statewide Preservation Conference which takes place in Woonsocket and throughout the Blackstone River Valley on Saturday, April 21. Organized by the RIHPHC with the JHCBRVNHC, the conference considers the theme of "Heritage in America's Great Outdoors" and showcases outdoor conservation, recreation, and heritage programs through a series of discussions, workshops, and tours. Session topics include the development of recreational trails, historic cemeteries, and preservation tax credits. Tours will sample the region's landscapes and architecture-industrial complexes, mill villages, historic farms, ethnic churches, and main streets. There will be a special emphasis on some of the Blackstone River Valley's most distinctive places that could become part of a national park, from Slater Mill in Pawtucket to Whitinsville and Hopedale in Massachusetts. The Closing Reception will take place at the St. Ann Arts & Cultural Center (1913-17), a must-see venue with the largest collection of fresco paintings in North America.


The 27th Annual Statewide Preservation Conference is a great opportunity to learn about new initiatives, discuss issues, and network with experts in the field of historic preservation. The registration fee for the full day is $40, which includes coffee, lunch, and the closing reception. For more information, call 401-732-1009,or visit www.preservation.ri.gov/conference. On-site registration will be open at Beacon Charter High School for the Arts, 320 Main Street in Woonsocket, beginning at 8:15am on Saturday, April 21.