Tim Cranston, town historian as well as NK's water quality specialist, earned a place of distinction amongst residents years ago. Now, the state has is recognizing Cranston for his volunteer service in the name of historic preservation.
Being given that particular award pleases Cranston.
"She, like me, was a practical historic preservationist, realizing that if you want to keep these buildings, you have to find a compromise position where they can still be functional buildings," Cranston said of Downing. "We don't live in Sturbridge Village or Colonial Williamsburg.... That's not the way it is. You have to be practical about preservation in order for it to work. And she felt that way, so it makes me feel good I'm getting an award based on her ground-breaking work in Providence. Providence is the way it is today because of what she did."
Cranston got interested in history through geneaology.
"My family has a long history here in town. In 1635, the first Cranstons settled in Rhode Island – been here ever since," he said. "That idea has been with me since I was a kid, passed on from my parents and grandparents, but only in an anecdotal fashion. I wanted to get it all together on paper for my kids: 'This is who you are.'"
His research turned up "neat stories that reflected the community here."
Eventually, he started writing a column for the then-new Northeast Independent newspaper. That was 15 years ago and his columns appear there still.
"Having the base background information, I'm able to have a pretty good understanding of how things are interconnected," said Cranston. "That's the neat part of learning enough about an area to tie all the things together to see what the bigger picture is."