The cover of the James K. Polk Presidential Home Special Resource Study 2023 which displays an image of President James K. Polk.
The National Park Service on Monday transmitted the James K. Polk Presidential Home Special Resource Study (SRS) to Congress, concluding that the 11th president’s Columbia, Tennessee, residence and adjacent property meet three of four criteria for potential inclusion in the National Park System.
Congress passed Public Law 116-9 in 2019 directing the study be conducted of the only surviving residence associated with Polk besides the White House.
President James Knox Polk lived in the federal-style home owned by his parents from 1818 to 1824, as his professional and political careers were underway.
He would eventually serve as a Tennessee state legislator, U.S. Representative, Tennessee governor and U.S. president from 1845 to 1849. The state of Tennessee purchased the Polk Home in 1929, at which time the James K. Polk Memorial Association opened the home to the public. The association maintains and operates the home, provides tours, educational programs and exhibits, and continues to acquire furniture and objects that once belonged to the Polk family.
The NPS prepared the SRS to evaluate for potential inclusion within the National Park System the Polk Home and adjacent property, which includes the Sisters’ House, a kitchen outbuilding, gardens and garden cottage, the Polk Presidential Hall and a modern law office building, all situated on the land parcel once owned by Samuel Polk, James K. Polk’s father.
When conducting an SRS, a study team considers public input and evaluates a site for potential NPS inclusion according to four congressional criteria: 1) national significance, 2) suitability, 3) feasibility and 4) the need for NPS management. All four criteria must have positive findings for the special resource study to identify a site as eligible for potential inclusion in the National Park System.
The Polk home met SRS criteria for national significance, suitability and feasibility. However, the NPS study team found that the Polk home is adequately managed by the memorial association, with support from the state. The study identifies a variety of opportunities for continued preservation, including technical assistance, funding opportunities and other NPS designation and recognition programs, such as affiliated area status. The Polk home was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961.
Additions to the National Park System are designated by acts of Congress or through presidential proclamation. An SRS serves as one reference for consideration in the potential designation of an area to be added to the National Park System. Because an SRS is not a decision-making document, it does not identify a preferred course of action.