U.S. Department of the InteriorDOI News Header
Office of the Secretary
April 4, 2007
Toni Lee, 202-354-2272
Shane Wolfe, 202-208-6416

Interior Secretary Kempthorne Designates 12
National Historic Landmarks in 10 States

Beth Sholom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pa., designed by

Frank Lloyd Wright, is a new National Historic Landmark because of its significance in the history of American architecture. The glazed glass pyramidal tower, built in the 1950s, reflects two dominant metaphors - the tent and the mountain - to convey the sense of a collective sacredness.
Beth Sholom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pa., designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a new National Historic Landmark because of its significance in the history of American architecture. The glazed glass pyramidal tower, built in the 1950s, reflects two dominant metaphors - the tent and the mountain - to convey the sense of a collective sacredness.

WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne today announced the designation of a dozen new National Historic Landmarks in recognition of their importance in interpreting the heritage and history of the United States. The landmarks are located in Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, South Carolina, Missouri, Illinois and Hawaii.

The sites include buildings that mark the evolving architectural style of Frank Lloyd Wright; a quintessential country estate of the Gilded Age; the home of Roswell Field, the legal counsel for Dred Scott in one of the most significant Supreme Court cases in U.S. history; a residence reflecting Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables; and an American Garden City model of an ideal planned community.

“These new National Historic Landmarks reflect some of the most important historical and cultural developments in American history,” Kempthorne said. “Each of them tells a story about us as a nation and a people. Together they exemplify our history, heritage, literature, and architecture. They are designated as National Historic Landmarks so that we may all enjoy and learn from them.”

The National Historic Landmark designation is the highest such recognition accorded by the nation to historic properties determined to be of exceptional value in representing or illustrating an important theme, event, or person in the history of the nation. These landmarks can be actual sites where significant historical events occurred, places where prominent Americans lived or worked as well as sites that represent the ideas that shaped the nation. Designation and national recognition encourages owners to protect and preserve their properties.

The properties are recommended by the National Park System Advisory Board and designated by the Secretary of the Interior. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction. Additional information on the National Historic Landmark program can be found on the NPS website at http://www.cr.nps.gov/nhl/

The new National Historic Landmarks announced today are:

Aline Barnsdall Complex (Hollyhock House), Frank Lloyd Wright’s first commission in Los Angeles, Calif., marks a major watershed in the progression of his architectural style. Designed in a style similar to a pre-Columbian temple and built between 1919 and 1921, Hollyhock House represents a transition from Wright’s Oak Park period toward what is known as the California houses, which were distinctive for domestic space planning that made nearly seamless connections between rooms and outdoor spaces. Wright scholar Neil Levine described Hollyhock House as “transitional and prophetic. Its subject matter is nature, and the relation between building and landscape is expressed in a symbolic language that announces the major themes of Wright's work." It not only stood out from Wright’s previous efforts, but also stood the test of time against his later works, eventually being considered one of the most significant buildings of his career.

Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, embodies the powerful architectural idea of the cantilevered tower -- where the cantilever principle replaces the conventional skeletal frame -- to convey Frank Lloyd Wright’s views about the decentralized city in his Broadacre City concept. Its symbolic importance is captured in the statement: “As a tree crowded in the forest has no chance to become a complete entity -- standing free it may establish identity and preserve it.” Built between 1953 and 1956 as headquarters for the H. C. Price oil pipeline company, the building’s solitary location within Bartlesville’s townscape provided for a high-profile silhouette and corporate identity. The 19-story tower has all floors and walls projecting from four vertical shafts of reinforced concrete, allowing for the division of the building into four quadrants. None of the exterior walls are structural, but are screens resting on the cantilevered floors. The tower acknowledges the relationship between American corporate identity and tall-building architecture. Its location in the prairie land of Oklahoma challenges the urban skyscraper myth; by creating a “vertical street,” Wright freed land around the base so that the building could stand in its own park and cast its own shadow upon its own ground.

Beth Sholom Synagogue, Elkins Park, Pa., a glazed glass pyramidal tower on a base of reinforced concrete and steel, reflects two dominant metaphors – the tent and the mountain. Built between 1954 and 1959, it is Frank Lloyd Wright’s only synagogue and the product of a fruitful collaboration between Wright and the congregation’s rabbi, Mortimer J. Cohen, who suggested the metaphors. Beth Sholom is a “coherent statement of worship” intended to inspire awe and convey the sense of a collective sacredness, purged of individuality. It provides an unparalleled architectural experience as it melds modernity and novelty with traditional meaning and iconography. It is nationally significant as one of Wright’s most important commissions during his long and productive career. Located north of Philadelphia, it served the Jewish community as it moved out of the city and into the suburbs after World War II.

Naumkeag, Stockbridge, Mass., is an outstanding example of a Gilded Age country estate, with original late-19th century furnishings and a series of designed landscapes and formal gardens. Located in the southern Berkshire Hills, the estate was designed by the famous firm of McKim, Mead & White and constructed between 1855 and 1886. The property is notable for its designed landscapes that evolved incrementally, with each successive designer incorporating elements of the past with new features to create compositions that spoke of their own time and place. Fletcher Steele is the best known of the landscape architects, whose landscapes were executed between 1929 and 1958 in collaboration with Mabel Choate. Steele was an important transitional figure between classical Beaux-Arts and modern 20th century practice.

Field House, St. Louis, Missouri, is the home of Roswell Field, the attorney who formulated the legal strategy that placed slave Dred Scott’s lawsuit for freedom before the Supreme Court. In Scott v. Sandford, one of the most controversial cases of the 19th century, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney declared that no slave could be a U.S. citizen and that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 (that abolished slavery in the territories) was unconstitutional. The 1857 decision widened the political gap between the North and the South and helped precipitate the Civil War. The most effective critic of the decision was Abraham Lincoln, a relatively unknown Illinois lawyer, whose attacks on the case thrust him into the national political scene. Anger over Taney’s decision energized the Republican party and led the nation’s first antislavery political party to victory in 1860. It took the Civil War and post-war constitutional amendments to overturn the Dred Scott decision.

Village of Mariemont, Hamilton County, Ohio, is a premier model of an ideal planned community following Garden City principles inspired by Ebenezer Howard, leader of the Garden City movement in England and designer of Letchworth, a few miles north of London. Mariemont village, located ten miles east of downtown Cincinnati, was funded by Cincinnati philanthropist Mary Emery and designed by John Nolen and his associate Philip Foster, starting in 1920. It was a national model of an American Garden City design. Mariemont was not a utopian community. Emery envisioned a balanced community that offered a variety of attractive rental units and single family homes for families of varying income levels, as well as streetcar transportation to downtown Cincinnati, parks, schools, tree-lined roads and avenues, and commercial enterprises arranged around a town center. It is nationally significant for its association with the history of planning in the United States and for architecture and landscape architecture.

House of the Seven Gables Historic District, Salem, Mass., is nationally significant in the areas of historic preservation and architecture because it was a seminal Colonial Revival restoration in 1909 by a leading restoration architect of the times, Joseph Everett Chandler. Its assemblage of houses, some moved from other locations, represents historic preservation practices of the early 20th century. The main building, The House of the Seven Gables, was one of the earliest houses in the country to be restored to its seventeenth-century exterior appearance. It was remodeled to reflect aspects of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 romance, The House of the Seven Gables. The property was restored and enlarged by Chandler in order to preserve a historic building in an appropriate setting in which to teach immigrants about American history and values. Its restoration was widely publicized and had a significant influence on later restorations in the nation.

Washington Place, Honolulu, Hawaii, is nationally significant for its close association with the life of Queen Lili’oukalani, the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian kingdom. It was her home from the time of her marriage in 1862 to John Owen Dominis, son of the original builder, to her death in 1917. Her constitutional monarchy was overthrown in an 1893 coup d’etat, and, in 1898, Hawaii was annexed to the United States. Two years later, it formally became a territory. Washington Place, built in 1844-1847, also is significant for its service as the executive mansion for the Territorial Governors from 1918 to 1959, and, after Hawaii became the 50th State of the Union, the State Governor’s Mansion, from 1959 to 2002. Washington Place is significant for its association with the historical theme of America’s 19th century expansionist history because it occupies a pivotal role in the 19th century history of the extension of U. S. territory into the Pacific and the rise of the nation as a Pacific power.

Central Utah Relocation Center Site (Topaz), Millard County, Utah, was one of 10 relocation camps for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Commonly known as Topaz, the site covered about 730 acres, 140 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Most of the residents of Topaz were from northern California, especially the San Francisco Bay area. More professional artists were confined at Topaz than at any other camp. The property retains many concrete foundations, the extensive system of roads and pathways, rock and concrete-lined gardens and ponds, and the bases of guard towers. Also surviving is a concrete monument with incised names of young evacuees.

To date, five relocation camps have been designated as National Historic Landmarks: Manzanar Relocation Center in California, Rowher Relocation Camp Cemetery in Arkansas, Granada Relocation Center in Colorado, Tule Lake Relocation Center in California, and Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. In addition, the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho became a unit of the National Park System in 2001.

Fig Island, near Charleston, South Carolina, contains the most complex of the 53 known shell ring archaeological sites on the U.S. southeast coast built by various Archaic coastal cultural groups between 3,000 and 5,000 years ago. The property consists of three major rings of shell and three lesser rings attached to the largest ring. The rings are circular walls of shell that define central plazas, which served as places for public interaction, such as feasting and ceremony. The shellfish consumed during feasting events provided most of the building material for the ring walls. Archaic shell rings are unique in precontact history due to their distinctive architectural forms constructed from the purposeful mounding of shell. The property is among the best sites with preserved early large-scale monumental architecture in the United States during this period. It also is significant for its potential to yield nationally significant information about migration, colonization, and technological innovations and adaptations linked to the earliest sedentary settlements over a period of 2,000 years of precontact history.

Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio, is nationally significant as the original site and model for the landscape-lawn concept that dominated American cemetery design from the mid-19th century into the 20th century. Located four miles north of Cincinnati’s central business district, the 345-acre property is the creation of cemetery superintendent and landscape gardener Adolph Strauch. The cemetery was begun in 1858, when Strauch turned away from the rural cemetery tradition and proposed that nature be enhanced by deliberate landscape design. He also provided advice on landscaped cemeteries in other cities. His landscape-lawn plan became well-known through publication in Atlantic Monthly and Scribner’s. Strauch’s successor, William Salway, faithfully conserved the legacy, and Spring Grove continued as a model for cemeteries and other designed landscapes throughout America.

The Hegeler-Carus Mansion, LaSalle, Illinois, is a rare surviving example of the residential work of noted Chicago architect, W.W. Boyington, who was among the most important early architects of Chicago. Boyington designed the 7-level, 57-room Second Empire residence for Edward Hegeler, who made a fortune in the zinc smelting business. The house was constructed between 1874 and 1876. Boyington arrived in Chicago in 1853 and enjoyed a prolific career that spanned 20 years before and after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. He designed many hotels, railroad stations, churches, and the first University of Chicago main building, now demolished. One of his best known commissions is the Chicago Water Tower, which survives and is one of the city’s major tourist attractions. The mansion’s ground floor, directly beneath the first floor, was a utilitarian floor that housed the working offices of Open Court Publishing Company, one of the nation’s earliest academic presses and one of the first U.S. publishers to produce English translations of Asian and European religious and philosophical texts.

Beacon Hill Historic District, Boston, Mass, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962, has received new documentation that expands its significance as a National Historic Landmark. The original designation included a boundary that focused on the south slope of the Hill. In 1972, the boundary was extended to include the north slope. The original nomination provided recognition for the district’s Federal and Greek Revival architecture and its early urban design. This added documentation incorporates recent scholarship and extends its period of significance to include late 19th century and early 20th century architectural styles as seen in small apartment buildings. It also documents Beacon Hill’s African American history and role in the abolition movement.

Historic preservation is another significant theme associated with Beacon Hill. Beginning in the mid-19th century, Beacon Hill was protected through restrictions on the height of buildings, the development of the area as a center of the antiques trade, and the development of revolving funds and protective zoning. Beacon Hill was designated a local historic district in 1955, bringing all renovations and new construction under review by the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission.

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