Editor’s note: This post was written by Kate Silbert and Matthew Woodbury, Ph.D. candidates in the Department of History at the University of Michigan. They were part of a graduate student team who researched and wrote the nomination for Dr. Bob’s Home to become a National Historic Landmark, a process outlined in previous posts. Here, they describe the recent ceremony to celebrate the designation.–Michelle McClellan
Mother’s Day is an important day for Alcoholics Anonymous. It was on this day back in 1935 that Robert H. “Dr. Bob” Smith and Bill Wilson first met. On this most recent Mother’s Day, seventy-eight years after the encounter that sparked a worldwide movement for sobriety, AA supporters gathered at 855 Ardmore Avenue in Akron, Ohio, to celebrate another milestone: the designation of Dr. Bob’s Home as a National Historic Landmark (NHL). As the authors of the NHL nomination, we were also celebrating. The recognition of Dr. Bob’s Home as an NHL marked the successful conclusion of an eighteen-month collaboration between Professor Michelle McClellan’s graduate seminar in public history and the stewards of Dr. Bob’s home, now a museum.
Since our first trip to Akron in the fall of 2011, the project had come full circle. That initial whirlwind visit set the pace for an intense period of consultation, research, and writing back in Ann Arbor. Last May, our group journeyed to Washington, D.C. to present the completed nomination to the National Park Service’s (NPS) Landmarks Committee. Five months later, in October of 2012, the Secretary of the Interior formally designated both Dr. Bob’s Home and Stepping Stones, the long-time residence of Bill and Lois Wilson in Bedford, New York, as NHLs.