National Historic Sites

By: Eric Peterson
©2007 National Park Service The frame house where Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln lived for 16 years is now the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

History, scien­ce, and scenery -- America’s national historic sites range from miniscule to massive, and simple to spectacular. They commemorate events, people, plac­es and things, helping us to remember significant events in our nation’s history. Formerly controlled by the war department and government agencies, America’s national historic sites are currently under the care of the country’s park system. Many sites offer a wide variety of outdoor activities as well as exhibits, cultural demonstrations, and tours.

In the pages below, you will find profiles of some of the country’s most coveted national historic sites. Included is contact information to help you plan your trip as well as photos of each destination. Here’s a preview:


Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site

The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, established in 1959, is a grand memorial to the great president featuring a visitor center with a museum about Lincoln. Several hiking trails in the 116-acre Kentucky park lead through the fields and woods of Lincoln's birthplace.

Adams National Historic Site

Established in 1946, Adams National Historic Site helps bring to life the fascinating story of one of our country's most influential early families. Located just south of Boston, in the small city of Quincy, this site gives visitors a chance to take a walk through the grounds, which reveal one of the best-kept eighteenth-century formal gardens in New England.

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site is dedicated to the first train to cross the Allegheny Mountains. Four of the ten original inclined planes are visible at Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, in addition to excavated engine-house foundations, a bridge that was built without mortar, and the first railroad tunnel in the country.

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, designated in 1963, is a memorial to a tailor who became president. The site, located in Greeneville, Tennessee, contains the rough-hewn tailor shop Johnson bought in 1831, two of his houses, and the national cemetery where Eliza and Andrew Johnson are buried.

Boston African-American National Historic Site

Boston African-American National Historic Site offers a look at black life in post-Colonial America. A one-and-a-half-mile walking tour through Boston's Beacon Hill includes 15 pre-Civil War structures linked by the Black Heritage Trail, focusing on the political, social, and educational aspects of black life during this time.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Brown v. Board of Education was a milestone in the fight for equality. The focal point of the site is Monroe Elementary at 1515 Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas. The site was designated a national historic site in 1992, nearly 40 years after the landmark ruling.

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

A trip to Carl Sandburg's home in North Carolina is a chance to sample the idyllic life led by this poet, author, lecturer, minstrel, political activist, and social thinker. Visitors can stroll about the farm, see demonstrations, and participate in poetry and music programs.

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site in the South Carolina low country is dedicated to a man who fought in the Revolutionary War and helped shape the Constitution of the United States. The site tells the story of Charles Pinckney, Snee Farm, and the United States as a young, emerging nation.

Chicago Portage National Historic Site

A memorial to the discovery of a key water route by French explorers, the Chicago Portage National Historic Site was established in 1952 and preserves that vital link as part of the I & M Canal National Heritage Corridor.

Christiansted National Historic Site

The elegant buildings and eighteenth-century fort along the waterfront on St. Croix Island provide a link to the days when sugar was king and the Danes ruled the area we now call the Virgin Islands. The Christiansted National Historic Site preserves seven historic buildings, including the Danish West India & Guinea Company Warehouse, built in 1749.

Clara Barton National Historic Site

The Clara Barton National Historic Site in Maryland preserves the home of the founder of the American Red Cross. The house where Barton lived from 1897 until her death in 1912 displays some of her furniture and personal possessions. The structure was originally built as a warehouse for Red Cross supplies and it also served as the first permanent headquarters of the American Red Cross.

Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site

Visitors to Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site can see where a great writer wrestled with his demons. Of Poe's several homes in Philadelphia, only this small brick house on North Seventh Street remains.

©2007 National Park Service Thomas Edison's prolific mind brought forth some of the world's most enduring inventions.

Edison National Historic Site

Explore the "invention factory" of an American genius at Edison National Historic Site in West Orange, New Jersey. Edison and his workers cranked out the movie camera, an improved storage battery, the fluoroscope, and rubber from the goldenrod plant.

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Eisenhower National Historic Site, the simple farm where Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Mamie retired, offers a tour through "Ike" (a nickname from childhood) and Mamie Eisenhower's farmhouse on the edge of Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania. The tour helps illustrate his place in middle-class America.

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, authorized in 1977, preserves Eleanor's personal retreat, which President Franklin D. Roosevelt carved out of a remote corner of his family's Hyde Park, New York estate.

Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site

Overlooking the San Ramon Valley and distant Mount Diablo in California, Tao House was once home to Eugene O'Neill, one of America's greatest playwrights. Today, it is a national historic site dedicated to O'Neill's life and work. Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site remains an open greenbelt area, so visitors may see black tailed mule deer, bobcats, or wild turkeys roaming free.

Ford's Theatre National Historic Site

Ford's Theatre is the place where the great a President Abraham Lincoln fell to an assassin's bullet. Located in downtown Washington, Ford’s Theater Ford's Theatre is a memorial to Lincoln, but it remains an active theater, producing plays through theater season.

Fort Bowie National Historic Site

The 1,000-acre Fort Bowie National Historic Site commemorates the story of the bitter conflict between the Apaches and the U.S. military. While at the Arizona fort, visitors can tour the ruins of Fort Bowie and view the exhibits inside the Visitor Center. Other activities include bird watching, hiking, and wildlife viewing.

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Fort Davis National Historic Site, a key post in the defense of West Texas, contains the most impressive remains of any Indian Wars frontier fort. The installation has also earned a significant spot in history as the first military fort in western Texas and one of the first such posts where African-American soldiers served.

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

Fort Laramie National Historic Site, near the confluence of the North Platte and Laramie rivers, preserves the earliest permanent white settlement in Wyoming, known officially as Fort William.

Fort Larned National Historic Site

Fort Larned in Kansas, established in 1859 to protect travelers and the U.S. Mail on the Santa Fe Trail, is one of the country's best-preserved frontier posts. Nine original stone buildings still outline the five-acre parade ground in what is now the Fort Larned National Historic Site.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is at the site of England's mysterious "Lost Colony". The quiet, wooded site includes cedar, oak, holly, and other trees that may have been used by the colonists to build boats, houses, or furniture. A scenic nature trail winds through the 150-acre site, and a small earthen fort has been constructed the same way the original one was -- by digging a moat and throwing the earth inward to form its walls.

Fort Scott National Historic Site

Fort Scott National Historic Site, established on the rolling prairie in 1842, employed members of an elite mounted regiment trained to fight on foot or on horseback, to keep peace between the Indians and white settlers. The site was also used as a supply base during the Civil War, and later as protection for workers building a railroad from Texas to Kansas.

Fort Smith National Historic Site

Fort Smith National Historic Site, a military outpost on the rolling prairie, is located on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border, and contains the remnants of two forts that helped keep the peace on the rough and lawless frontier.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Fort Vancouver is where it all began for the Pacific Northwest. Built in 1825 as the headquarters for the British-owned Hudson's Bay Company's fur-trading operation on the Pacific Coast, it became the economic, social, and cultural hub of the Oregon Country.

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site commemorates Frederick Douglas -- a defender of equal rights for all. A part of the National Park System since 1962, Cedar Hill is little changed from when Douglass lived there. Much of the furniture in the elegant Washington, D.C. home is original, and Douglass' belongings indicate his wealth and success.

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

The Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site in Brookline, Massachusetts, is more a monument to Olmsted's work than his life. The father of American landscape architecture, Olmsted’s legacy of green spaces, wilderness areas, and urban parks -- the most famous of which is New York's Central Park -- helped define the way America looks today.

Friendship Hill National Historic Site

Located in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, Friendship Hill is one of the best-kept secrets of the National Park System. Home of Albert Gallatin from 1789 to 1825, the home tells the story of Gallatin who joined Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe in shaping the philosophy of this nation. Ten miles of hiking trails wind through the woods and meadows of Friendship Hill. One of the trails takes visitors past the memorial grave of Gallatin's first wife, Sophia.

Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site

Gloria Dei Episcopal Church, the oldest church in Pennsylvania and among the oldest in the country, still rings with the voices of worship after more than 300 years. Although designated a national historic site in 1942, Old Swedes' Church, as it is also known, is owned and maintained by its congregation.

Golden Spike National Historic Site

On May 10, 1869, workers from the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads met at Promontory Summit in Utah and drove the golden and silver spikes that both symbolically and literally connected the East to the West. The joining of the two railroads is celebrated at Golden Spike National Historic Site, which was designated in 1957.

Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

The Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in western Montana, once one of the largest cattle ranches in the United States, recalls the days when the range was unfenced and seemingly endless.

Hampton National Historic Site

Hampton Hall, one of the country's largest and most ornate Georgian mansions, represents the social and economic history of one family for nearly two centuries. The national historic site includes the Ridgely family home, slave quarters, and 24 other buildings on a 63-acre estate.

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site

Harry S. Truman lived in the house at 219 North Delaware Street, Misouri, from 1919, when he married Bess, until 1945, when he became President. The house also contains family portraits, memorabilia, and Margaret Truman's baby grand piano, which she took with her to the White House.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site presents the two phases of Hoover's life -- his Quaker upbringing and his long public career -- in the setting of a late-nineteenth-century Iowa farm community. The site includes the small cottage built by Herbert's father Jesse in 1871, and even a blacksmith shop.

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, a showcase of a President's remarkable career, features a presidential library and museum that displays a collection of items detailing Roosevelt's long tenure as President, from the Great Depression to World War II and the development of the atomic bomb.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in eastern Pennsylvania is one of the finest examples of a nineteenth-century, rural American ironmaking community. Using restored buildings and costumed interpreters, the site demonstrates the operation of a cold-blast furnace to produce iron goods, including making charcoal, firing the furnace, and casting the molten iron into stove plates.

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Scattered throughout the West are remains of various frontier outposts. Once part of a thriving trade and military engine that fueled westward expansion, they survive now as remnants of the past. One exception is the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in Arizona; the 1878 post is still doing business.

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

In 1880, more than 17,000 people from points across the country traveled by train to Mentor, Ohio, to hear James A. Garfield campaign for the presidency from the front porch of his home. The 30-room mansion, known as Lawnfield, is now preserved as the James A. Garfield National Historic Site.

Jimmy Carter National Historic Site

The Jimmy Carter National Historic Site is dedicated as much to the thirty-ninth President as it is to the rural southern community that he was born and raised in and still calls home. The Plains Railroad Depot, formerly Carter's presidential campaign headquarters, serves as the visitor center, and contains photographs and a video on Carter's life and presidency.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site

John F. Kennedy, our nation's thirty-fifth President, was born in a house at 83 Beals Street in the Boston suburb of Brookline. The home became a national historic site in 1969. Within a short walk from the house are other sites associated with John Kennedy such as the Naples Road Residence where he lived from ages four to ten and the Dexter School, attended by the Kennedy boys.

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, in central North Dakota, was established in 1974. The site includes three village sites, making it the best-preserved complex of Northern Plains culture. Exhibits at the visitor center and a full-scale earthlodge will further visitors' understanding of the lives of the first inhabitants of this place.

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Abraham Lincoln's frame house in Springfield, Illinois, is the only residence our sixteenth President ever owned. In 1971, the National Park Service acquired the president's home as part of the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, which today encompasses a four-block historic district of perhaps a dozen mid-nineteenth-century homes.

Longfellow National Historic Site

Longfellow National Historic Site is a loving tribute to a widely read American poet -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Wadworth’s Cambridge house is furnished as it was in Longfellow's time and contains many of the writer's personal belongings. The site includes a beautiful formal garden where outdoor concerts and poetry readings are held.

Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

Maggie Lena Walker, daughter of a former slave, rose to prominence as a businesswoman, newspaper editor, and bank president, all at a time when women were denied the vote and married women couldn't own property. Maggie Walker's home from 1904 until her death in 1934 has been preserved as the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site since 1978. The 25-room house is furnished with original family pieces.

Manzanar National Historic Site

At the base of the Sierra Nevadas, an empty guard post stands along a lonely stretch of desert highway. It is one of the few remnants of the War Relocation Center at Manzanar, one of ten such camps that once detained Americans who were neither charged with nor convicted of a crime.

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site is the stylish country estate of our eighth President. After his White House years, Martin Van Buren came back to Kinderhook, New York, home to his family for more than 150 years. He retired to Lindenwald, a large red brick house on land that once belonged to his ancestors. In 1974, the National Park Service acquired the house, along with 22 acres of land.

Mary McLeod Bethune House National Historic Site

Mary McLeod Bethune House National Historic Site, the home of a former slave who became a presidential adviser, consists of two buildings: a fully restored nineteenth-century townhouse and a carriage house. Galleries within the house display photographs, manuscripts, paintings, and artifacts concerning the black women's rights movement. The house pays tribute to Bethune and all black women who have made significant contributions to America and the world.

McLoughlin House National Historic Site

Thirteen miles south of Portland, in Oregon City, stands the McLoughlin House, one of the few remaining pioneer homes in the former Oregon Country, a region that once stretched from Alaska to California and from the Pacific to the Rockies. In 1941, McLoughlin House became the first site in the west to be designated by Congress as a National Historic Site.

Ninety Six National Historic Site

Ninety Six National Historic Site commemorates the village of Ninety Six in South Carolina -- an important British stronghold that was destroyed by patriots.

Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site

Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site in Texas, the only site in the entire National Park System dedicated to the Mexican-American War, presents both nations' perspectives on the battle over a boundary. The 3,400-acre park, authorized in 1978, is gradually increasing its limited menu of visitor activities.

Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site

Pennsylvania Avenue, the street that links the Capitol to the White House, is steeped in history. In 1965, the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site was formed to revitalize this stretch of avenue, known as "America's Main Street". It is now a place for people to stroll, shop, dine, and follow history.

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site

History and legend come together at Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, which preserves the last major religious structure of the ancient Hawaiian culture built in the islands. Pu‘ukohola Heiau is one of the most famous heiau (temple) in the Hawaiian Islands.

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

Sagamore National Historic Site, located at Sagamore Hill on Long Island and established in 1962, is Theodore Roosevelt’s “Summer White House.” The site also includes the Old Orchard Museum. Originally the home of General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., it now contains exhibits and a film relating to Theodore Roosevelt's life and career.

Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site

Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site is the only surviving colonial church in New York. Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site has a two-fold claim to historic fame. Not only is it the only surviving colonial church in New York City, but the site on which it stands is associated with the fight for freedom of the press.

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site

The home, studio, and gardens of America's most noted sculptor -- Augustus Saint-Gaudens -- are preserved at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire. The 150-acre site, dotted with casts of some of his sculptures, offers a crash-course in the career of an important artist, as well as a glimpse into the life of a wealthy, artistic couple of the late nineteenth century.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site

The Salem Maritime National Historic Site, designated in 1938 to recognize Salem's contribution to the fledgling U.S. economy, recalls the time when Salem, Massachusetts was a lively port with 50 wharves. Three historic houses are open for tours, and visitors can shop for tea, spices, Chinese porcelain, Indian fabrics, and other goods representative of 1830s trade at the restored West India Goods Store.

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, in Massachusetts, celebrates the rise of American industry. By touring the collection of rustic buildings at the site, visitors can learn how iron was made and forged. The site also has a nature trail through the surrounding marsh and woodland.

Sewall-Belmont House National Historic Site

The Sewall-Belmont House National Historic Site, located in Washington, D.C., is a monument to Alice Paul, who founded the National Woman's Party in 1913. She and other suffragettes chained themselves to the White House fence and staged hunger strikes to attract national attention. Paul's determination led to ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, assuring women the right to vote.

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

Springfield Armory National Historic Site preserves a facility significant to both the production of military small arms and the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. The Massachusetts site houses an incredible collection of firearms and ammunition. The Main Arsenal, which houses the Springfield Museum, displays the world's largest collection of military small arms.

Steamtown National Historic Site

Steamtown National Historic Site in Pennsylvania is a working railroad that recalls the era of the steam locomotive, which helped spur America's westward settlement. Steamtown, which was officially added to the Park System in 1986, occupies about 40 acres of the former Scranton Yards, housing the largest collection of steam-era locomotives and freight and passenger cars in the country. The oldest locomotive in the collection is a 1903 freight engine. Visitors to the site can take a ride through history in a steam-engine train.

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site

Roosevelt's birthplace was demolished in 1916 to make way for a commercial building. After his death in 1919, a historical association purchased the Manhattan, New York site, and built an exact replica of the house, furnishing it with original and period pieces. Visitors can tour the rooms of the home, including the parlor, which Roosevelt once described as "a room of much splendor," and the library, a room to which he attributed a "gloomy respectability."

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site was designated in 1966. Here, in the library of the Buffalo, New York home of his friend Ansley Wilcox, Roosevelt took the oath of office to become the twenty-sixth President of the United States.

Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Habre-de-Venture, a 1771 Georgian mansion near Port Tobacco, Maryland, was the home of Thomas Stone, a member of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. This national historic site is a five-part colonial plantation house; two hyphens connect the central block of the house to its east and west wings. The wings of most five-part houses extend in a straight line, but the wings at the Thomas Stone House form a graceful arc.

Touro Synagogue National Historic Site

The first Jewish synagogue in America stands as a testament to the religious freedom of the colony that became the state of Rhode Island. Throughout the historic site, established in 1946, are many sacred religious objects, including the Holy Ark, which contains a 500-year-old scroll.

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant established Yellowstone National Park -- America's first national park. The historic site preserves the nearly ten-acre estate near St. Louis where Grant and his family lived from 1854 to 1860. The property includes the main house and lands, as well as slave quarters and outbuildings.

Weir Farm National Historic Site

Weir Farm National Historic Site pays tribute not to a single artist, but to an entire style that developed there. A great deal of the original Weir Farm remains, including the studios, barns, and houses. In addition, the site, authorized in 1990, includes 60 of the 62 acres of Weir Farm, helping to preserve the open space that inspired a movement of American art.

Whitman Mission National Historic Site

Located in southeastern Washington, the Whitman Mission National Historic Site is a memorial to a family of true pioneers. Trails and wayside exhibits lead visitors past the mission, the Whitmans' graves, and the Whitman monument. The visitor center has artifacts from the days of the mission, including tools, clothes, and the bible that Marcus Whitman brought with him from the East.

William Howard Taft National Historic Site

In 1969, the large Greek revival-style house where William Howard Taft was born, was designated a national historic site. The house, which sits on a prominent hilltop overlooking the city of Cincinnati, is a reminder of an elegant era when Mount Auburn was known as the city's "Fifth Avenue," and it is restored to look as it did when the twenty-seventh President and tenth Chief Justice lived here as a child and young adult.


To learn more about national monuments and memorials, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:

  • National Monuments: Learn more about America's national monuments
  • National Memorials: Discover national memorials in the U.S.