Cultural and Historic Preservation
The Noreen Stonor Drexel Program in Cultural and Historic Preservation aims to instill an understanding and appreciation of historic preservation in all its manifold forms. Since historic preservation - as it is practiced in the United States - relies on the support of citizens to be effective, our program is dedicated to educating and training students to lead the next generation of preservationists.
Our poly-disciplinary program draws from archaeology, architectural history, politics, economics, urban studies and a host of other fields, and utilizes cutting-edge technology to train students to think like preservationists.
Our students sharpen their minds and dirty their hands in the living laboratory of Newport and Aquidneck Island. A summer playground during the Gilded Age, Newport is also home to the largest collection of Colonial and late 18th-century buildings in the country. This provides a unique setting for our students to examine the relationship between the past and the present, and to consider how these should impact the future.
In addition to classroom study, our students have many opportunities to engage in preservation projects, from GIS mapping of historic cemeteries and Revolutionary War battlegrounds to creating condition assessments of Gothic Revival churches to repairing 18th-century slate headstones in Newport's Colonial-era Common Burying Ground.
Beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year, our program has added a new major unique in American higher education: a bachelor's degree in historic preservation and the traditional building arts. The program is based on the early 19th-century idea of the Apprentices' Library, a place where young people working in what were then known as the "mechanical arts" could continue their education in a self-directed way. The major combines a liberal arts education with training in one of the areas of traditional building craft: carpentry, iron and metalwork, stonework and masonry, flat and decorative plasterwork, and furniture making and restoration. Pursued over all eight semesters of undergraduate study, the program culminates in a six-month, full-time apprenticeship in the chosen craft area.