Futuristic Heritage Center to Make Debut

April 24, 2007

The National Park Service will soon dedicate and open the new Homestead Heritage Center at Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, NE. The facility will be dedicated on May 20, which is also the 145th anniversary of the date in 1862 on which President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law. The new building will include a national homesteading museum featuring exhibits on the Homestead Act's many lasting impacts on industrialization, agriculture, American Indians, immigration to the United States, national politics, and the natural environment. All 30 of America's homesteading states will be represented in the museum. This new visitor facility will open for the first time immediately following the dedication.

The center's design, by GWWO Inc./Architects of Baltimore is unique and highly symbolic. A curved roof resembles the appearance of sod being pushed up from the ground by a plow blade. The roof's apex also points directly west, symbolizing the Homestead Act's role in America's westward expansion. "The building is somewhat futuristic in its appearance," said Mark Engler, superintendent of Homestead National Monument of America. "This is very appropriate when one considers that the Homestead Act was all about the future. Homesteaders sought betters lives for themselves and their children, the government sought to populate and improve the West, and immigrants came here to homestead and for opportunities they often did not have in their home countries. Of course, the law also impacted American Indian tribes by opening up their traditional lands to homesteading farmers."

Homestead National Monument of America was created in 1936. It is located on the former Daniel Freeman homestead, one of the very first tracts claimed on January 1, 1863, the day the Homestead Act became effective.

Contact: Mark Engler, National Park Service, 402-223-3514

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