Historic Fort Snelling Center Proposal: Fort Snelling National Historic Landmark

Fort Snelling is one of Minnesota’s most important historic sites. Few sites across America receive the National Historic Landmark designation. While there are more than 80,000 National Register of Historic Places sites, there are only about 2,400 Landmarks. Minnesota has only 22 Landmarks, and Fort Snelling is arguably its most important. National Historic Landmarks are sites that represent stories central to the American narrative. Impacts to such resources are not only a local or state issue but concern all Americans.

From the birth of American settlement in Minnesota through caring for soldiers who fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, this fort has seen many stories central to American history. The fort also has structures relating to nationally significant civilian stories, like the Great Depression. The historic fort’s historic buildings represent these stories. Many other stories have played out here, stories central to American Indian history and to Minnesota’s settlement. These stories must be interpreted. The Historic Landmark designation, however, comes from the authentic historic buildings (the Cavalry Barracks and Stable and the Ordnance building). Continued designation requires that this collection remain intact. Continued loss of these resources, alteration to the resources not in keeping with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, and inappropriate changes to the landscape could result in the removal of the site’s Historic Landmark status.

The Society has produced three reports that address Fort Snelling’s history for this project. The third report, dated February 28, 2008, provides the best overview and detailed information of Fort Snelling’s history. It focuses on the four historic buildings in the Cavalry area. The Cavalry Barracks (Buildings 17 and 18) and Cavalry Stable (Building 30) were built in 1904-05. The Army constructed the Ordnance building (Building 22) about 1878. These four buildings belong to the rest of Fort Snelling south of Highway 55 known as the Upper Post.

The first report, dated August 30, 2007, contains only a few pages related to the site’s history (see MNRRA comments of September 20 and October 11, 2007) and dealt with all aspects of the project. The second report, dated November 9, 2007, focused on the history and historic preservation issues. This report, however, left out much that was essential to the review. MNRRA provided substantive comments on this report (see MNRRA letter and comments of December 11, 2007).

The archeology section of the November 9 report (pp. 22-30) addresses important issues not covered in the February 28 report.

Project Proposal Reports

February 28, 2008: Fort Snelling's Building 17, 18,22, and 30: Their Evolution and Context
August 30, 2007: New Visitor Center at Fort Snelling: Documentation for Consultation
September 20, 2007: Letter from National Park Service to the Mn Historical Society following the first public meeting
October 11, 2007: Letter from National Park Service to the Mn Historical Society regarding Section 106 and determination of effect
October 26, 2007: Letter from State Historic Preservation Office to National Park Service regarding the review of "Documentation for Consultation
November 9, 2007: New Fort Snelling Visitor Center: Response to Questions Raised during the Section 106 Consultation Process
December 11, 2007: National Park Service Letter and Report Comments to the Society


Significance and Integrity
As you consider Fort Snelling’s history, consider it in context of what qualifies this site for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and what raises it to the level of a National Historic Landmark. In evaluating the effect of a project on historic sites, reviewers need to evaluate impacts to the qualities of a site that make it National Register worthy and to the site’s integrity. Bulletin 15, How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation, provides the basis for this.

Last updated: October 15, 2018

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