Teaching with Historic Places: A Lesson Plan

Exterior, Pioneer Courthouse, Portland, OR

What purpose(s) do you think this building was designed to serve?

Why do you think that?

Thus begins a lesson about the role of federally owned and operated buildings in communities across America. It is one of the many lessons in the National Park Service's (NPS), Teaching with Historic Places, educational lesson plan series. The series uses properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places as case studies.

GSA's Public Buildings Service, collaborated with NPS and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers to create the interactive lesson plan that poses the questions above.

The plan is subtitled "Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence in American Communities." The lesson focuses on the design and construction of three historic federal buildings:

  • Pioneer Courthouse in Portland, Oregon (1875)
  • Byron R. White U.S. Courthouse in Denver, Colorado (1916)
  • Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse and Custom House in Louisville, Kentucky (1932)

The lesson covers:

  • History behind the creation of a unified federal building program
  • The role federal buildings have played in American communities throughout the nation's history
  • Establishment of the Office of the Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury Department
  • Establishment of the U.S. General Services Administration, the federal agency responsible for providing federal workplaces for over one million federal employees

Historic Federal Building Coloring Challenge

Like to color? Print out these ready-to-color drawings of some of our historic properties from around the country.

Last Reviewed: 2021-11-09