2013-10-03 / Around Town

Rhody Awards For Historic Preservation


Tschirch received his B.A. in history from Providence College in 1983 and his M.A. in architectural history and historic preservation from the University of Virginia in 1986. He got his start at the PSNC in 1982 as a summer tour guide at The Elms and was appointed Tschirch received his B.A. in history from Providence College in 1983 and his M.A. in architectural history and historic preservation from the University of Virginia in 1986. He got his start at the PSNC in 1982 as a summer tour guide at The Elms and was appointed Architectural historian John Tschirch and the Newport Historical Society’s mobile web-based tour were recently honored at the fifth annual Rhode Island Preservation Celebration.

The Rhody Awards, chosen by Preserve Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission from nominations by the public, honor individuals, organizations, and projects in recognition of their contributions to the preservation of Rhode Island’s historic places.

The Frederick C. Williamson Professional Leadership Award was presented to John R. Tschirch. As an architectural historian, teacher, and writer, he excels in interpreting the architectural and social evolution of historic houses and landscapes. His scholarship and leadership changed the way that the Preservation Society of Newport County (PSNC) conserves, interprets, and presents Newport’s decorative arts, architecture, and landscapes to the public. Director of Education in 1986, Director of Academic Programs and Architectural Historian in 1995, and Director of Museum Affairs in 2010.


Architectural historian, writer and teacher John R. Tschirch was presented the Frederick C. Williamson Professional Leadership Award. Architectural historian, writer and teacher John R. Tschirch was presented the Frederick C. Williamson Professional Leadership Award. Tschirch’s research has been published in The Magazine Antiques, Encyclopedia of New England Culture, Journal of the New England Garden History Society, and Parisian Palaces of the Belle Epoque. He has lectured widely in the U.S. and abroad on historic houses, landscapes, and their preservation.


The website app Explore Historic Newport lets users create their own walking tours. The website app Explore Historic Newport lets users create their own walking tours. Earlier this year, Tschirch retired from the PSNC to spend more time as an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design’s Continuing Education program. He is presently working on a historical novel that is rich in the architecture, gardens, food, and fashion of late 17th-century France.

The Newport Historical Society’s mobile website, Explore Historic Newport, is the winner of the Education Award. An interactive mix of historic photos, audio clips and compelling stories, Explore Historic Newport was designed specifically for use on portable devices like smart phones and tablets. It serves as an onthe go resource for visitors to the City by the Sea with information on over 75 sites, from colonial-era burial grounds to the mansions on Bellevue Avenue. Each site illuminates a particular aspect of Newport’s past, and together they demonstrate the breadth of the city’s history. The website features a GPS-enabled map that can locate the user and identify nearby sites, enabling visitors to view information “on location” – creating their own self-guided walking tour.

With Explore Historic Newport, the venerable Newport Historical Society has embraced the technology of the 21st-century. This forward-looking program, one of the first of its kind in the state, ensures that Newport’s stories will be told far and wide.

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