Executive Order 13287, Preserve America, calls on federal agencies to protect, enhance, and use historic properties owned by the government. Many of the directives set forth in the order have long been underway at GSA, such as establishing a historic building database, monitoring historic building conditions, making ceremonial spaces in historic buildings accessible to the public for special functions, and leasing underutilized historic buildings to preservation-minded non-federal entities.
GSA also supports the order's heritage tourism goals with online information on GSA historic buildings, regional preservation websites, and image-rich pages on discoveries in which GSA has played a part, such as the African Burial Ground and 19th-century Five Points neighborhood in New York City, and the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley. A number of GSA historic buildings also contain museums, exhibits and retail activities open to the public on a daily basis:
National Building Museum
The National Building Museum contains the grandest ceremonial space in the federal inventory. Designed by General Montgomery Meigs to house the Pension Bureau, the 1887 building is an engineering marvel. Colossal Corinthian columns in the atrium measure 75 feet in height and are among the tallest in the world.
Department of the Interior Museum and Indian Craft Shop
The Department of Interior Museum contains exhibits that explore the history of the department and the architecture of the 1930s Main Interior Building. Installed in 1937, dioramas highlight the department's unique programs and provide the public with a rare opportunity to view historic museum exhibits. The Indian Craft Shop, which opened in Department of the Interior building in 1938, carries a diverse selection of crafts by American Indian artists.
The National Aquarium has been located in the Herbert C. Hoover U.S. Department of Commerce Building, which also houses the Department of Commerce, since 1931. At time of its construction in the early 1930s, it was the largest office building in the world. The National Aquarium features more than 80 marine-life exhibits and is the oldest aquarium in the nation.
White House Visitor Center
The White House Visitor Center is located in the Great Hall of the Herbert C. Hoover Building. Originally the Patent Search Room, the Great Hall subsequently served as the Washington Tourist Information Center and temporary office space. In 1993, restoration of the ornate plaster ceiling and Indiana marble walls began. Today the space contains interactive exhibits, visitor information, and the White House Historical Association (a nongovernment website) shop.
Old Post Office Pavilion
The Old Post Office, constructed between 1892 to 1899 to house the national post office headquarters and provide local mail service, was Washington's first skyscraper. Vacated by the post office and slated for demolition in 1928, the building was saved through the efforts of local citizens and preservationists. With unique shops and restaurants, the revitalized building is today one of Washington's most popular landmarks.
Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, National Archives Building
The National Archives Building, designed by John Russell Pope to safeguard and provide access to the nation's historic documents, opened in 1935. In the Rotunda, visitors can view the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Recently restored murals depict the document signings.
Hotel Monaco, General Post Office
The Hotel Monaco, also known as the Tariff Building, occupies one of Washington's most significant federal buildings. Robert Mills designed the 1839 building to serve as the General Post Office, and Thomas Ustick Walter designed the Civil War-era extension. The National Historic Landmark is now one of Washington's premier hotels.
of the American Indian
in New York
National Museum of the American Indian
New York, NY
The George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian explores the diversity of Native American cultures from the prehistoric era to the present. The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, which architect Cass Gilbert designed in the Beaux-Arts style in 1899, houses the museum. A monumental structure on the south side of Bowling Green in lower Manhattan, the building exterior is embellished with sculptures representing international commerce.
African Burial Ground
New York, NY
The African Burial Ground was discovered in 1991 during the construction of the Ted Weiss Federal Building in Lower Manhattan. The burial ground encompassed five city blocks during the 17th and 18th centuries. The remains of 419 individuals uncovered during the archeological excavations were reinterred at the site in October 2003. The site was designated a National monument in 2006, and the following year the African Burial Ground Memorial was dedicated.
U.S. Custom House
Galveston Historical Foundation
The Galveston Historical Foundation was founded in 1871 and is the oldest preservation organization in Texas. In 1999, the society moved into the restored Galveston U.S. Custom House. A symbol of the city's prosperity before the 1900 hurricane, the deadliest natural disaster in United States history, the 1861 custom house is today a research center and popular venue for special events.
Chihuly Glass Exhibit
The Chihuly Glass Exhibit is housed in the rotunda of Tacoma Union Station, a Beaux-Arts building that served rail passengers from 1911 to 1984. After the railway abandoned the building, it stood empty for several years until GSA leased, renovated, and adapted it for use by the federal courts. Dale Chihuly, a Tacoma artist, created a stunning collection of glass art, including a cobalt blue chandelier that hangs from the ninety-foot-high dome.
Atlanta Federal Center
Rich's Department Store Exhibit
Rich's Department Store was established in Atlanta in 1891. With a liberal return policy and unique attractions such as the Pink Pig Monorail for children, it was the city's most popular retailer throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries. Its former downtown location is now part of the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center, which has an exhibit documenting the history of this favorite Atlanta institution.
U.S. Custom House
New Orleans, Louisiana
The Audubon Insectarium occupies part of the U.S. Custom House in New Orleans. Although construction began 1848, the building was not completed until thirty-three years later due to the disruption of the Civil War. The Marble Hall is one of the finest Greek Revival interiors in the United States.
The shortcut to this page is www.gsa.gov/heritagetourism.