MPNHP Celebrates 5th Anniversary

Source: Atomic Heritage Foundation | Newsletter | November 24, 2020

It is time to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park! The official signing ceremony with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz that established the new Park was held on November 10, 2015 in Washington, DC.


In the late 1990s, some 50 abandoned Manhattan Project properties at Los Alamos were slated for demolition. In the V Site’s high bay building (above), scientists brought the large “Gadget” through the high bay doors and suspended it from a metal beam for testing the complex assembly.

In 1997, Cindy Kelly was working at the Department of Energy and learned about the fate of the Manhattan Project properties. Seeking expert advice, she called Advisory Council for Historic Preservation’s (ACHP’s) John Fowler who scheduled a visit a visit to Los Alamos for Council members in late1998.

When they toured the V Site, Council member Bruce Judd opined that the humble high bay building was “Monumental in its lack of monumentality.” Carol Shull, Keeper of the National Register, thought that the V Site could qualify as a National Historic Landmark or even a World Heritage Site given its significance to world history. Officials from the laboratory gave V Site a reprieve from demolition but had “no funds for preservation.”

Restoration was made possible by the White House’s Save America’s Treasures program launched in 1999. To commemorate the millennium, $30 million in grants were dedicated for historic Federal properties that were in danger of being lost.

The V Site received a grant for $700,000. This prompted Cindy Kelly to leave the Department of Energy to raise the required matching funds. In 2002, Kelly founded the Atomic Heritage Foundation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to broaden her efforts and work towards a Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

In honor of the fifth anniversary, Kelly presented an hour-long webinar highlighting fortuitous events and nationwide bipartisan support that were critical to the creation of the park. The webinar was part of events orchestrated by the Los Alamos County, Los Alamos Historical Society and others. Here is the agenda of anniversary programs developed by Los Alamos.