It’s official! Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior, has formally designated a new round of National Historic Landmarks (NHL), including Stepping Stones, the longtime home of Bill and Lois Wilson in Katonah, New York, and Dr. Bob’s Home, the residence of Dr. Bob and Anne Smith, in Akron, Ohio. As I have written previously, I had the privilege of working with a team of graduate students from the University of Michigan on the NHL nomination for Dr. Bob’s Home. Last May, we traveled to Washington, D.C., to present the nomination to the Landmarks Committee of the National Park Service, one step in the process. Now, we are thrilled to learn that both nominations have cleared the final hurdle with the Secretary’s signature.
Kudos to the NHL staff for coordinating the nominations of Dr. Bob’s Home and Stepping Stones. The two sites together illustrate the genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron with Dr. Bob, Anne, Bill, and a small circle of others; and its later explosive growth as an organization, as well as the development of Al-Anon, under the stewardship of Bill and Lois. In this way, the designation process itself provides an interpretive framework for understanding the evolution of the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship.
National Historic Landmark status is reserved for places that “possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.” Perhaps the most important aspect of this designation is that it gets the story of Alcoholics Anonymous into the mainstream of American history, where it belongs.