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Social Security Administration Building in Lewiston, Idaho deemed historic

AUBURN, WA – The U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Northwest/Arctic Region is proud to announce that the Social Security Administration (SSA) Building, located on 19th Avenue in Lewiston, has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The SSA Building was the first federal building in the United States to be constructed by a minority-owned company under the provisions of Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act.

The construction contract, administered by the Small Business Act in collaboration with the Office of Minority Business Enterprise program, permitted GSA to negotiate with minority-owned businesses on a noncompetitive basis. In 1971, the African-American-owned Urban Construction Company, of Seattle, WA was awarded the $173,522 contract to build the SSA Building in Lewiston. 

Sections 8(a) and 7(j)(10) of the Small Business Act of 1958 authorized the Small Business Administration to establish a business development program to help minority-owned companies compete with larger, non-minority controlled companies for federal contracts. Today it is known as the 8(a) Business Development program. 

In 1969, although about 17 percent of the U.S. population identified as a minority, only about 4 percent of the nation’s businesses were owned by minorities. 

”The Social Security Administration Building in Lewiston is important because it was the first test of the federal government’s promise to expand opportunities for minority-owned businesses,” said Rebecca Nielsen, Regional Historic Preservation Officer for the GSA Northwest/Arctic Region. “When Urban Construction Company was able to complete the construction on time and under budget, it demonstrated how both the business and the government could benefit from the program.”

For now, the SSA Building is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places. GSA may, in the future, get the property officially listed on the register, however, the National Historic Preservation Act requires that federal buildings, once designated historically eligible, to be treated the same regardless of formal listing.

GSA is committed to the preservation of America's historic building legacy. Learn more about GSA's role in historic building stewardship at gsa.gov/historicpreservation. Read the complete Lewiston, Idaho SSA Building Determination of Eligibility for the Historic Register [PDF - 17 MB].