James K. Polk Home Special Resource Study
As directed by Public Law 116-9 (s. 47) cited as the "John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act" of 2019, the National Park Service is preparing a special resource study of the James K. Polk Home located in Columbia, Tennessee, to evaluate its potential for inclusion within the national park system. James K. Polk, the 11th president of the United States, lived in Columbia, Tennessee, from 1818 until 1824. Nominated as the first "dark-horse'' presidential candidate, Polk unified a split Democratic Party to defeat Henry Clay of the Whig Party, assuming office in 1844. Despite only serving one term, Polk is considered by some to be the most efficient President, accomplishing all the domestic and foreign policy goals established during his campaign. Although frequently overshadowed by his predecessor, Andrew Jackson, Polk is credited with a wide range of policy accomplishments, most notably expanding the western territorial holdings of the United States through the Mexican-American War and the establishment of the U.S. Naval Academy and the Department of the Interior. Polk left office in 1849, returning to Nashville, Tennessee, where he lived for three months before his death. The James K. Polk home in Columbia, Tennessee, is the only surviving residence of President Polk, and contains original artifacts from his estate.
The National Park Service will use this website to display public information throughout the course of this study. Meeting dates and locations will be posted here, along with project updates.
WHAT IS A SPECIAL RESOURCE STUDY
A special resource study evaluates the eligibility of an area to be recommended for designation as a national park or other special designation. The study evaluates criteria for inclusion in the national park system and is designed to provide Congress with information about the resource qualities at the site and alternatives for protection, which can be used in the legislative process of designating potential additions to the National Park System. The National Park Service prepares the study for the Secretary of the Interior; the findings and any recommendations will then be presented to Congress. Regardless of the outcome of the study, new units of the national park system can only be established by an Act of Congress or by Presidential Proclamation.
The purpose of this special resource study is to gather information about the James K. Polk Home through historical research and public input, and then to report these findings to Congress. The special resource study will evaluate the potential for inclusion of the property in the national park system based upon whether it meets established criteria for significance, suitability, feasibility, and the need for NPS management. Please use the "Links" tab on the left to find additional information on the criteria used to evaluate new national parklands.
The James K. Polk Home was designated as a National Historic Landmark (NHL) in 1961. The National Park Service conducted a reconnaissance survey of the James K. Polk Home in 2014 to provide a preliminary evaluation of the property as a potential new unit of the National Park System . The survey analyzed the suitability, feasibility, and need for NPS to manage the James K. Polk home and found that further analysis through a Congressionally authorized special resource study was warranted. Please use the "Links" tab on the left to visit the reconnaissance survey project website and find an electronic copy of the completed survey.
The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019 (Dingell Act) directed the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of the James K. Polk Home to evaluate its national significance and determine the suitability and feasibility of designating it as a unit of the national park system. Based on this legislated directive, the National Park Service has initiated the process of analyzing the property for its potential as a new unit of the national park system. We invite you to participate in this process.
Currently, the NPS is in the initial data gathering phase of the project. Interested parties, stakeholders, scholars, and the general public will be able to inform the study by helping the NPS study team understand the significance of the Polk Home, what makes the site unique from other sites currently protected by the national park system, how designation would help protect the cultural resources and provide for visitor enjoyment of those resources, and why direct management by the NPS would be better than conservation by other federal, state, local, and private entities. Formal opportunities to provide this input will be advertised in the future and updates will be posted on this website.
We welcome your participation throughout this process. This website will be updated regularly with information to keep you informed, as well as request feedback as needed. We hope you will continue to be engaged as we move forward with this special resource study. Thank you for your interest!