The National Archives Building, located near the National Mall and the most prominent structure in the Federal Triangle in Washington, DC, was officially designated as a National Historic Landmark, on December 13. The designation was signed by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

Archivist of the United States Dr. Colleen Shogan, commented:

It is such an honour to receive the National Historic Landmark designation for the National Archives Building. It is a well-deserved distinction for this extraordinary building that is in its own way a treasure, surpassed only by the priceless documents held within it.

Dr. Colleen Shogan, Archivist of the United States

On August 16, 2023, the National Park Service Advisory Board voted to recommend their approval on the National Historic Landmark nomination for the National Archives Building, along with five other nominees. The board recognized the building’s significance as the first archives built specifically for federal records in the United States and as a masterpiece work of New York–based architect John Russell Pope.

The new status comes more than 50 years after the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in 1966, as part of the Federal Triangle. It was also listed individually in 1971. Only about 2,500 of the approximately 95,000 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places are recognized as National Historic Landmarks, meaning that less than three percent have received the designation. The status covers not only the National Archives Building but the entire 5.2-acre square and green spaces, the sculptures at both main entrances, and the small garden and monument stone to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which was dedicated in 1965.

Mark Smith, executive for Business Support Services, commented:

The National Archives Building had long been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The designation as a ‘Landmark’ further underscores the building’s importance as documentation of our nation’s architectural history. Much like the archived records it protects, the building itself is recognized for its importance in understanding our country’s history.

Mark Smith, executive for Business Support Services

The building was completed in 1935. Notable milestones over the nearly 90-year history of the building include the almost immediate change to fill the interior courtyard with additional archival stack space, the arrival of the nation’s founding documents in 1952, and a major building-wide renovation in the early 2000s.

These improvements did not alter the essential features or functionality of the building, as it continues to be used for the same purposes for which it was designed and built: as a federal repository for the nation’s most valuable records with public research rooms and exhibit spaces accessible to all.

The National Archives Building joins over 2,600 other National Historic Landmarks but is the only National Archives facility with landmark status. The New York office currently occupies space in the landmarked Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, while the Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Richard Nixon sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Learn more about the National Archives Building on the new special topics page dedicated to the building. Learn more about the landmark designation on the National Archives website.

Image Source:

  • The National Archives Building USA: The National Archives