I have always been fascinated by history and as I have gotten older I have been able to appreciate the remaining relics that remind us of years gone by. Of course not all historical events worth remembering are of happy moments. In fact I believe it is probably those that are hard to deal with, process, and upset us to our core, are the events we need to pay closer attention to. We need to learn from our collective painful past.
A good example of such a place is one I am simply ACHING to get to, the brand new Smithsonian facility- the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). It is the first museum of its kind and over a hundred years in the making. My passion for this place is based on the mementos of those who suffered for so long finally having a place of respect where their messages will be able to educate future generations for many more years to come. F.Y.I. tickets are free but booked until January so make your reservations now!
The places I love to visit that allow me to walk backwards in time don’t just survive on their own. Without proper care they would be just another memory someone takes with them to their grave. It is one thing to hear about a story and quite another to experience a part of it.
That thought brings us to today’s Find Out Friday topic, the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). This act turned the fifty this month. It was another legendary piece of legislation signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. This law officially protects and preserves historical as well as archaeological sites in the U.S. In legal circles it is also known as Section 106.
It can sound confusingly similar but because of the NHPA law there are two additional components that all preserved sites or places fall into.
The first is the National Register of Historic Places.
The second are the National Historic Landmarks.
The easiest way to keep it all clear in your mind is to take the phrases literally.
The National Register of Historic Places provides “grants from the U.S. Department of the Interior to the states to conduct surveys of historic properties and nominate such properties to a National Register of Historic Places. The register was to be a listing of places worthy of preservation across the country.”
There are five categories of this Act that a property or place may fall into in order to qualify for protection:
- Sites or Structures (like a canal or a boat),
- The location of significant and/or historic events,
- Districts, or
- A plot of land or grouping of any of the above including artifacts and remains.
Additionally the National Register requires one or more of the following criteria be met:
1. Are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to history,
2. Are associated with the lives of significant persons of the past, or
3. Possess distinctive characteristics of a period representing significant components of a particular time in our past.
James Glass of the INDY Star wrote an article, see the last link below, about the history of our country with regards to preservation policies. It was there that I learned that these types of programs received a great boost in funding when then President, Ronald Reagan, established a law allowing historic rehabilitation tax credits to owners of privately owned and commercially run historic properties.
While the National Historic Landmarks commission “coordinated preservation programs, identified historic places, nominated them to the National Register and making grants for preservation. They also suggest modifications to preserve historic properties that otherwise would be demolished.”
“National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.”
I have to say the rush of adrenaline from the excitement of seeing the signature “historic site” marker never gets old for me. I have a collection of those signs from every single place I have been that had one. Its how I know I have arrived at a place I am meant to be.
A complete list of all National Historic Landmarks by state can be found on the National Park Services (NPS) website which is the third link listed below.
The NPS hosts many preserved and historic sites even if they are not officially a park. A good example is one of my favorite places, Alcatraz Island off the coast of San Francisco.
Their site is a great tool for planning a road trip or incorporating a stop when in a nearby area.
I am a big fan of killing many birds with a single stone one day at a time.
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