Updated March 30 at 4:30pm

URI among 13 honored at Rhody Awards


SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The University of Rhode Island was one of 13 to earn a Rhody Award from the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission and Preserve Rhode Island.

The award, presented at a celebration on Thursday night at Rosecliff mansion in Newport, was for URI’s restoration of Edwards Hall and its Depression-era murals.

Rhody Award nominees are chosen by the public and various organizations to “honor individuals and agencies based on their contributions to the preservation of historic sites in Rhode Island,” according to a release from the school.

During the Edwards Hall renovation, workers restored the stage, bathrooms, windows, doors and lobby in addition to making fire safety improvements to the building.

“Edwards Hall is much more attractive and functional after the transformation. The URI community is very appreciative, especially those who saw the building beforehand,” URI’s Vice President for administration and finance Robert A. Weygand said in prepared remarks. “We are sensitive to historic preservation, but also understand the need for technology.”

While completing the Edwards Hall project, employees found Depression-era murals by Rhode Island artist Gino Conti that had been “accidentally preserved” behind a false wall during a remodeling project in the 1960’s, according to the school.

Other winners of the 2012 Rhody Awards were:

  • Antoinette F. Downing Volunteer Service Award: Jamestown Historical Society for preserving and interpreting local history for more than a century.

  • Frederick C. Williamson Professional Leadership Award: Eric Hertfelder of Bristol in recognition of his career leading state and federal preservation agencies, as well as important historic sites like Blithewold and Fort Adams.

  • Homeowner Award: Linda Steere for her thoughtful renovation of the Esten-Bowen House (ca. 1800), a property restored by her grandmother 70 years ago in rural Burrillville.

  • Landscape Preservation Award: Aquidneck Island Land Trust for the Scenic Ocean Drive Project in Newport that buried unsightly utility lines and restored the picturesque views along one of the nation’s earliest landscaped routes.

  • Stewardship Award: Blithewold Mansions, Gardens and Arboretum of Bristol for the far-reaching Master Plan, a document that provides a platform for programming and historic site interpretation to meet the most advanced standards in property care.

  • Project Award: Brown Unversity in Providence for restoring the historic Transit Roomat Ladd Observatory (1890-91) and for making the facility available to both academic researchers and amateur star-gazers.

  • Project Award: Providence Revolving Fund which developed an innovative financing plan and restored the George Wilkinson House (1890) in Providence’s Elmwood neighborhood.

  • Project Award: The House of Hope Community Development Corporation which provided new homes to formerly homeless individuals by rehabilitating the Thomas Wilbur Homestead (ca. 1800) and George Galen Wheeler House (ca. 1906), both in Warwick.

  • Project Award: Lerner Ladds Bartels Architects for rehabilitating the Rhode Island Cardboard Company mill (1880) for their own studio and other arts-related businesses in Pawtucket.

  • Project Award: Marek Zamojski for completing the conversion of the historic Rockville Mill complex (1844) in Hopkinton into affordable rental apartments.

  • Project Award: Friends of Sakonnet Light for the effort to refurbish Sakonnet Light (1882-84) on a rocky outcrop offshore, between hurricane season and winter, within a tight budget.


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