Bill W. House May Become National Historic Landmark

Bill W. House May Become National Historic Landmark

By Hunter R. Slaton 02/20/12

The birthplace of AA's "higher power" concept hits several Landmark requirements, including being an "icon of ideals that shaped the nation."

Image: 
For recovering drunks, a station of the cross.
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An important pilgrimage site for AA (and Al-Anon) members is being considered for National Historic Landmark status: the Bedford Hills, New York, home of Bill and Lois Wilson. Among other artifacts, the home contains the kitchen table where Bill W. settled on the concept of a higher power, rather than the more specific Christian God. Known as “Stepping Stones,” the house has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2004, along with about 80,000 other such sites. But National Historic Landmark status is much more rarified. If approved, Stepping Stones would join the ranks of just 2,430 other major American landmarks including the Statue of Liberty, Dealey Plaza in Dallas (where JFK was shot), and the Hoover Dam. But some latter-day neighbors of Bill W. aren’t too keen on the plan, which they fear would only add to the 3,000 visitors per year that Stepping Stones has drawn since 2004. One woman, an appraiser, is petitioning the National Park Service to reject the landmark designation. “This is not about the purpose of the property or the people,” she says. “It is about the fact that this is a residential neighborhood and this does not conform and this does not add value.” Whether or not the effort to elevate the Bill W. house succeeds, a similar drive will begin this spring to confer landmark status upon the home in Ohio where AA co-founder “Dr. Bob” lived.