Last updated: August 1, 2023
Dr. Bob’s Home is nationally significant under NHL Criteria 1 and 2. Due to its central role in the establishment of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a global organization whose mission is to assist alcoholics in achieving and maintaining sobriety, the site meets NHL Criterion 1. Through its association with Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith (Dr. Bob) and Anne Smith, who are nationally significant for their work in establishing Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon, the property also meets the requirements for NHL Criterion 2. Along with William Griffith Wilson (Bill W.), Robert Smith is considered a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The establishment of AA marked a turning point in the history of alcoholism and its treatment. Understanding the central role of Dr. Bob’s Home as a site of healing for alcoholics is vital to the foundation and expansion of AA. In addition to being the place where Robert Smith achieved his own sobriety, the home is significant to the institutional history of Alcoholics Anonymous because it was here that the philosophy and early practices that underlie AA’s program were first articulated and debated.
The Smiths’ Akron home fulfilled the tri-partite role of meeting-house, laboratory of recovery practices, and refuge until 1939 when—with an estimated 80 people in attendance—the meetings moved to King School, a mile and a half from the Smith home. Robert and Anne’s dedication to developing a set of practices to support sober living for alcoholics, their partnership with Bill Wilson, and their provision of a welcoming, lived-in space, were crucially important in establishing AA and nurturing it through its early years. The period of significance ranges from 1935 when AA was founded to 1950 when Smith died.