By Glyn T. Davies
The Tangier Old Legation—the United States’ oldest public property abroad and the only National Historic Landmark outside of the country—celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2021. Bicentennial celebrations included a traveling exhibit in Morocco in 2021 and a gathering, Sept. 22, 2022, at the Meridian International Center in Washington. Sponsored by the Fund to Conserve U.S. Diplomatic Treasures Abroad, the September event featured items from the exhibition, Of Voice and Stone—created and curated by Embassy Rabat and the Office of Cultural Heritage, honoring the Legation and Moroccan-U.S. friendship—including a virtual reality tour of the exhibit and a Lego® replica of the American Legation in Tangier.
Among those who delivered remarks were Tobin Tracey, director of Overseas Buildings Operations’ (OBO) Office of Cultural heritage; Ambassador John Bass, under secretary of state for management; Ambassador Dwight Bush, former U.S. ambassador to Morocco; and Michael Sonnenrich, president of the Fund to Conserve. They spoke of the legation’s unique role as the United States’s oldest and longest-serving diplomatic building, symbolizing both our Moroccan-U.S. friendship and the Department of State’s remarkable collection of 240 culturally significant structures and sites and 15,500 heritage items on six continents.
Other distinguished guests included Ambassador William Moser, director of OBO; Zeineb Bentahila, Moroccan deputy chief of mission to the United States; Puneet Talwar, U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco; Paul Edmondson, president and chief executive officer of National Trust for Historic Preservation; Timothy Chorba, president of the Council of American Ambassadors; John Bradhshaw, executive director of DACOR; Dr. Dale Eickelman, president of the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies; and Aviva Rosenthal, director of international relations at the Smithsonian. They were joined by domestic and international members of the Moroccan-American community, business representatives, philanthropists, and art and historic preservation advocates.
For more information on how to get involved in the restoration of the Tangier Old Legation and other Department cultural heritage assets, visit www.fundtoconserve.org.
Ambassador Glyn T. Davies is the senior program advisor to the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations’ Office of Cultural Heritage.