Roger Williams National Memorial Seeks Comment on Cultural Landscape Report

Roger Williams National Memorial is at a very important point in its development and we NEED your input, advice, guidance, and great ideas. Working with the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, we have just completed the final draft of a Cultural Landscape Report for the site. The Cultural Landscape Report includes a comprehensive site history, from Native American presence through the urban renewal period of the 60s that created the park right up to the park as we know it today. The report also includes an evaluation and analysis of the site and treatment recommendations. Although I am sure many of you will read and appreciate the first two sections, it is the final section, treatment recommendations, that we are seeking your input on. Should we expand our visitor facilities? Should there be a memorial commissioned to recognize Roger Williams and his beliefs or is the memorial landscape representative of him and his ideas simply by its designation as a National Memorial? Should we consider redesigning the landscape to better reflect its original planned intent/design? How can we enhance the landscape to increase visibility? What kinds of partnerships/programs should we develop in an effort to create more awareness of the site and its significance? These are just a few of the questions that we are looking for your input on.

There is no question that Roger Williams National Memorial is a well taken care of, beautifully manicured, urban greenspace in the center of the vibrant city of Providence. Ask most users of the park, however, who manages the site and what its significance is and only a few will be able to answer “National Park Service and the first settlement in America based on freedom of religion and liberty of conscience”. With your help, we have an opportunity to develop a guiding document for the site that outlines strategies to increase visibility and awareness for this landscape and celebrates the basic freedoms outlined in our country’s constitution.

The final draft of the Cultural Landscape Report can be found on our park website at

We also have a limited number of hard copies of the draft report available at the park visitor center located at 282 North Main Street.

We welcome your written comments either by email to me or by mail the address below by December 11, 2009. We are also holding a public meeting Wednesday, December 9, 2009, 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. at the Old State House (entrance on 150 Benefit Street) to allow you the opportunity to share your comments and ideas with park staff, the project team, and other interested parties. Please join us!

This is your opportunity to help us think boldly and broadly about the landscape and its interpretation. Please take some time to read through the report and send us your thoughts or, better yet, come out on December 9th to share them with everyone. We welcome and appreciate all of your ideas! Thanks, Jen Gonsalves, Site Manager

2 thoughts on “Roger Williams National Memorial Seeks Comment on Cultural Landscape Report”

  1. Arnie McConnell

    Roger Williams was a great debater. He seemed to love nothing better than a doctrinal argument. Perhaps you would consider developing a forum for debate–an open air amphitheater on the park grounds??

    Or a yearly public speaking contest?

    Or a yearly forum, in conjunction with the R.I. college and university community, on contentious issues that demand our tolerance and consideration.

    I hope you get to read these ideas and that you give them serious consideration. Don’t hesitate to e-mail me if you wish. I’d willingly help in the implementation.

    Arnie McConnell

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