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 and operates under the provisions of the Code of Alabama 1975.

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 state-owned 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 preservation programs are based on the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Federal law makes the Commission responsible for the National Register of Historic Places, which is part of a nationwide program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archaeological places. 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. 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. Federal and state 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 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. It is the only statewide organization whose sole mission is the preservation of African-American Historic Places. The Commission also created the Maritime Advisory Council and the Council on Alabama Archaeology to advise on the topics relating to maritime archaeology, archaeology, and history.