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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name U.S. Border Inspection Stations
Reference Number 64501205
State Multiple
County Multiple
Street Address
Multiple Property Submission Name U.S. Border Inspection Stations, States Bordering Canada and Mexico
Status Accepted 5/22/2014
Areas of Significance
Link to full file
The U.S. Border Stations discussed in this Multiple Property Documentation Form (MPDF) are considered significant as new property types that were planned, designed and constructed by the U.S. government in response to the greatly increased volume of motor vehicles crossing land borders, and the resulting need to adequately enforce the nation's customs and immigration laws. Until the 1920s, goods and people primarily entered the United States at sea, lake or river ports. At land points of entry, customs and immigrations officials were housed in government buildings built primarily for a different function or in space rented from private entities. By the 1920s, motor vehicles became more economical and reliable, and as a result, their ownership, popularity, and total miles traveled increased steadily. Roads and highways were improved to meet the increased need, including those that crossed the international borders with Canada and Mexico. Until this period, illegal crossings at international land borders were relatively rare. In 1917 and 1921, however, immigration laws were tightened and the imposition of head taxes and quotas resulted in an increase in the number of illegal alien land border crossings. In 1919, prohibition laws increased the smuggling of alcohol and other illegal goods across land borders. The non purpose-built customs and immigrations facilities proved inadequate to handle the increased volume and were ill positioned to monitor illegal crossings ofthe border. In 1928, H.A. Benner ofthe Bureau of Customs and J.L. Hughes ofthe Bureau oflmmigration reported why the then-present quarters and facilities were inadequate to meet that need and recommended that the government construct purpose-built inspection stations for border highways at 48 locations (Benner and Hughes 1928). Benner and Hughes recommended that the new stations be owned by the U.S. Government, demonstrate federal authority and presence, and be sited, planned, and programmed with the following characteristics to remedy the situation: proper location; proper facilities; dignified and attractive surroundings; fair and adequate service to the public; and decent living quarters for officers. They recommended three station types, each with basic spatial and program requirements that differed more in scale than function: I) the Standard Office Building; 2) the Standard Office Building with Living Quarters; and 3) the Special Office Building (Benner and Hughes 1928: 5-10).

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria