The Alabama Historical Commission (AHC) was created on August 19, 1966 when Governor George Wallace signed Act Number 168 of the Special Session. Because of a report filed by Albert McKinley Rains, noted Alabama congressman who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1945 to 1965 and author of With Heritage So Rich, Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act. The Commission is the agency designated to carry out the state’s responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 as amended. The Commission operates under the provisions of the Code of Alabama 1975.
The Commission serves as the official state historic preservation agency whose mission is to protect, preserve, and interpret Alabama’s historic places.
We work to accomplish our mission through two fields of endeavor: Preservation and promotion of state-owned historic sites as public attractions; and, statewide programs to assist people, groups, towns and cities with local preservation activities.
State law makes the Commission responsible for the acquisition and preservation of historic properties and education of the public on historic sites in Alabama. The Commission owns and manages 15 historic sites throughout Alabama as public attractions. The properties range from forts, battlefields, and archaeological sites to historic houses and museums.
Each year the Commission welcomes over 300,000 visitors to its historic sites. Educational events are held monthly to engage visitors.
The statewide program is based on the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and state law makes the Commission responsible for the Underwater Cultural Resources Act, promulgating rules and regulations for the preservation and/or relocation of human remains and funerary objects, and the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Act. Federal law makes the Commission responsible for the National Register of Historic Places. The Commission receives an appropriation from the federal government to support some of our activities which form the foundation of preservation. These include the survey program to record information about Alabama’s historic places and the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage, which recognizes buildings and sites that are important in telling the story of Alabama’s history. We also administer a cemetery program which provides support to citizens, and the Alabama Cemetery Register to record and recognize these places.
The Commission also sponsors local planning assistance for towns who want to develop and maintain local preservation ordinances. Tax Incentives are also available for the rehabilitation of income-producing properties which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The National Historic Preservation Act mandates that the Commission reviews projects (Section 106) which use federal money or require licenses for their effects on Alabama’s historic structures and archaeological sites.
The Commission created the Maritime Advisory Council and the Council on Alabama Archaeology to advise on the topics relating to maritime archaeology, archaeology, and history. The Commission also created the Black Heritage Council in 1984 to advocate and advise on the preservation of African-American historic places in Alabama. At the time of its founding, the BHC was the first African-American advisory council of a state historic preservation office created in the country.