The GSA and Historic Preservation

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), an independent federal agency established in 1949 as the government’s procurement arm and landlord, plays a critical role in preserving the buildings that symbolized national ideals, says Jim Williams, the GSA’s Acting Administrator. The oldest buildings in GSA’s inventory date to 1810. They include impressive custom houses, post offices, and office buildings constructed of simple brick and stone. Eight percent of GSA’s historic buildings were constructed before 1900 and most are still in use.

Some of the greatest structures were created between 1900 and 1941, with more than half the historic buildings in GSA’s inventory constructed during the Great Depression. Historic buildings occupy about 25 percent of GSA’s federally owned space. Tenant agencies include most of the entities that conduct the public’s business: the U.S. Courts, the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and many more.

GSA’s historic preservation program supports the integrity and reuse of historic buildings that the agency owns, leases and has the opportunity to acquire. “We are responsible for keeping them functional, safe, and efficient, all while being mindful that they are links to our uniquely American heritage,” says Williams.

One example is the The J.W. McCormack Federal Building in Boston. Meticulous attention has been paid to preserving Depression-era historical details while the building has undergone a $78 million face-lift. Another is the on-going modernization and restoration at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Restoration of six rooms there included uncovering decorative ceiling murals from the Gilded Age that were hidden under 21 coats of paint.

“These awesome and inspiring legacy buildings help define who we are as Americans and the heights to which we aspire,” says Williams. “GSA is proud of its role as steward of these historic treasures and committed to preserving them for this generation and all that follow.” We heart what the GSA is doing.