Culture Lovers Rejoice as Grant Program Promises to Protect Rich US History

The Rosa Parks bus in Dearborn, Michigan is one of many historical icons to have received support from the Save America's Treasures program

A slew of organizations along with proponents of slow, local travel will benefit from a public-private partnership aimed at preserving and promoting the diverse cultural history of the United States.

The Save America's Treasures grant program recently announced $14.3 million in awards to conserve historically notable sites and collections such as author Flannery O'Connor's home, the personal papers for Jacqueline Kennedy, the restoration of Civil War flags, the oldest functioning botanical garden in the country, the oldest continuously-operated farmers market, and an 1878 Thomas Edison tinfoil recording.

"These Save America's Treasures grants will preserve the physical fabric of our history and the rich diversity of America's story, as told by its artists, scholars, and other notable figures. These awards also honor the hundreds of volunteers, organizations, and communities whose energy and investment are ensuring that this national legacy endures for generations to come," said First Lady Michelle Obama.

Beginning in 1999, this unique federal-private partnership which works with grantees to secure private funds matching the federal grant money, has led to the restoration of over 1,100 projects in every state and territory of the United States. The announcement of these awards preview impressive opportunities to see many artifacts and collections that were not formerly open to the general public.

As local travel continues to grow in popularity, those living in the US may take advantage of the chance to discover some of the country's most intriguing pieces of cultural and intellectual history. Slow travelers will appreciate the emphasis on restoration in the program, as well as the importance of many of these sites and collections on their local communities. With a Save America's Treasures recipient in every state, there is little reason not to engage with the artists, historians, and communities who support these projects.

Stephanie Meeks, the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation emphasized the timing of the announcement during African American History Month, stating "It is important to recall the many iconic African American sites the program has helped save- from Harriet Tubman's home to Rosa Parks' bus, from Martin Luther King's Ebenezer Baptist Church to Little Rock's Central High School and Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church. Also it is appropriate that a number of the grants announced today will preserve places and artifacts that illuminate our nation's African American heritage."

You may find a project near your home or travel destination by visiting the National Park Service's handy online database.

Photo Credit: Randy Stern