Alabama Historical Commission carries out mission
By Susie Hovater Malone
The Alabama Historical Commission is the agency designated to carry out the state’s responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Its mission is to preserve and promote historic sites in Alabama as public attractions and to provide statewide programs to assist people, groups, towns and cities with local preservation activities.
The Alabama Historical Commission (AHC) was created on August 19, 1966, when Gov. George Wallace signed Act Number 168. Because of a report filed by Albert McKinley Rains, noted Alabama Congressman who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1945 to 1965 and author of With Heritage So Rich, Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act.
The AHC consists of 21 appointed members who represent a broad cross-section of Alabama. The Alabama Historical Commission’s main office is located in the Teague House in downtown Montgomery. The house was built in 1848 and has been described as Montgomery’s “Southern Mansion.”
State law makes the commission responsible for the acquisition and preservation of state-owned historic properties, as well as the education of the public on historic sites in Alabama. The commission owns and manages 15 historic sites throughout Alabama as public attractions. The properties range from forts, battlefields and archaeological sites to historic houses and museums.
Each year, the commission welcomes more than 300,000 visitors to its historic sites. Educational events are held monthly to engage visitors. Each year, May is recognized as the AHC’s official preservation month. The theme for this year was “Places with a Purpose.”
The Commission receives an appropriation from the federal government to support activities which form the foundation of preservation. These include a survey program to record information about Alabama’s historic places and the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
The Alabama Historical Commission marker program began in 1975 to assist Alabama historians and the historic preservationists in educating the public about historically significant properties in the state. As you travel across Alabama (as well as downtown Russellville and sites throughout Franklin County), you will see various historic markers which recognize buildings and sites that are important in telling the story of Alabama’s history.
The process in getting these historic markers is quite involved. An application must be submitted along with documentation verifying its historic significance. The AHC marker coordinator edits the narrative and confirms with the National Register all historical facts before issuing a marker.
The Commission also sponsors local planning assistance for towns who want to develop and maintain local preservation ordinances. Federal and state tax Incentives are also available for the rehabilitation of income-producing properties which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.