It’s hard to overstate Lombard Pozzi’s impact on historic preservation in Rhode Island, and especially in his hometown of Bristol. That acknowledgement has now led to the creation of the Lombard J. Pozzi Center for Historic Preservation Education.
It’s hard to overstate Lombard Pozzi’s impact on historic preservation in Rhode Island, and especially in his hometown of Bristol. When he succumbed to an unexpected illness in 2013 at the age of 67, he was still very much at the height of his career, with talent and wisdom to share.
It is in that spirit that the Bristol Historical & Preservation Society (BHPS) has created the Lombard J. Pozzi Center for Historic Preservation Education, with their inaugural event scheduled for next month.
“Lombard left some funds to the Historical Society, and we decided to create an education center in his name as the best way to keep his memory alive, and do what he would do,” said Dr. Kevin Jordan, professor emeritus in the Roger Williams University Historic Preservation department, and a longtime friend of Pozzi.
“You can’t walk or ride through either Bristol or Warren without seeing his work in both new and old buildings,” said Jordan. But Jordan cites Pozzi’s work when he was tasked with bringing a disgraced and dilapidated Roger Williams Park back to life in the 1970s as one that is most exemplary of his approach toward preservation.
“While it was easy to make a straight ahead program of restoring the structures, Lombard was concerned with much more than that…he embarked on a research project to look at how the buildings developed and how they had been used. He collected old postcards, solicited people’s photographs and talked, as he put it, to every old person he could find. He wanted to know the ‘life’ of the place and the buildings, how the people interacted with them and what worked and didn’t work with them. He continued that process by also spending hours in the park watching and talking to the people who were using it then and soliciting their ideas on what they thought it could/should be.
“The result of this was that he restored the buildings, preserved their beauty and made them compliant with the systems and building codes of today. He used new materials and designs where necessary for the buildings and site to function best for the present and last the longest for the future. He made the park an exciting place to be once again.
“I think this is a prime example of what he saw as one of his key goals in life — making our inheritance a vital part of our legacy. That is the Pozzi spirit that the Pozzi Educational Center plans to exemplify.”
Launch coming in October with some useful tips
The Pozzi Center will officially launch with its first homeowner workshop on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a full-day program designed to teach homeowners how to renovate their historic home for the 21st-century in ways that maintain historic character.
This program is specifically designed to help owners of homes that pre-date 1825. (More will follow, focusing on other periods.) It will be held at the BHPS headquarters at 48 Court St. The fee is $45, and includes lunch and materials. Seating in limited to 20; register on the website at bhpsri.org.
The program will include a study of local architectural styles presented by Dr. Catherine Zipf, Director of the BHPS. She will discusses the changing styles of local architecture from its early years to 1825.
A survey of common exterior and structural problems follows by Robert Cagnetta, President of Heritage Restoration. He will present examples of common problems that homeowners might encounter and what to do about them.
A discussion of best practices in historic interior renovation will be presented by Roberta Randall, Principal Historical Architect of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. She will advise homeowners on which kind of work will enhance their historic house and why.
Finally, Jordan will lead participants on a tour of local pre-1825 buildings — the good, the bad, and those waiting for help, followed by a roundtable discussion. Participants who have a problem they’d like help with may bring photos or drawings and the experts will review and offer suggestions.
“The funds Lombard left have been crucial, allowing us to hire Catherine (Zipf) to pull this together,” said Jordan. “She’s dynamic. We couldn’t do this without her.”
“Lombard was a wonderful man and a dedicated restoration architect,” said Randall. “I think he would be proud to have his name associated with the Lombard Pozzi Center. Knowing the individuals that have worked hard to create this Center, I am sure that the work they do will continue his legacy of helping historic building owners to preserve and sensitively rehabilitate their property to extend their useful life. He would have been happy to know the Center is continuing to raise awareness of Historic Preservation in Bristol and beyond.”
“The Pozzi Center is a chance for everyone to experience who Lombard was,” said Cagnetta. “His passion to save, collect and document history as he experienced it is what historic preservation is all about. We are only temporary stewards of this place, these places, and we get to benefit from his passion. Lombard saved buildings because they should be saved. And not just for him, but for everyone to see, experience, and appreciate.”