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Katonah Home of Bill & Lois Wilson Designated National Landmark

The status was announced this week by the federal government.

Stepping Stones, the home of Bill and Lois Wilson, respective co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Al-Anon Family Groups, was on Wednesday announced as a newly designated national historic landmark.

Already on the register of state and national historic places, the Wilson home, which since 1990 has been operated by the Stepping Stones Foundation, was added as one of 26 sites that have "exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States," according to a national parks service press release.

In his announcement, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said "During the 47 years the Wilsons lived here, A.A. grew exponentially, spreading within and outside of the United States, with Bill Wilson serving as the leader of the movement."

There are 2,527 designated national historic landmarks and 592 national natural landmark sites across the country.

Annah Perch, executive director for the foundation, said she was thrilled because the status not only recognizes the historical significance and importance of the site, but enables the organization to continue the site's preservation by pursuing grant funding available only to nationally landmarked places.

Perch also said it was exciting for Stepping Stones to join the John Jay Homestead State Historic site as the Town of Bedford’s recognized National Historic Landmarks.

“The people of this community are understandably proud of its local history,” said Perch. “From the earliest days of the American Revolution to the most influential social and spiritual movement of the twentieth century, this area has important stories to tell.”

At the same time, the home of "Dr. Bob," also known as the Dr. Robert and Anne Smith House in Akron, Ohio, was granted national landmark status. Dr. Bob’s Home is associated with Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith (Dr. Bob) who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous with Bill Wilson. Perch said the double designations were significant.

"One of the most influential social and spiritual movemens of modern times can be traced back to these two men," she said.

The foundation is in talks with the town of Bedford over proposed changes in parking to the museum, which currently is open 12 p.m. - 3 p.m., Mon. - Sat. and Sundays by appointment. 

Eileen Giuliani October 20, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Al-Anon was founded at Stepping Stones by Lois Wilson in 1951 and contributes to the historic importance of the site. She also founded the Stepping Stones Foundation to preserve the house and educate about alcoholism and the effects on families, individuals and society.
Lisa Buchman (Editor) October 21, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Thank you Eileen for noting Lois Wilson's contributions to the foundation and site. You might be interested in previous coverage we had about the Wilsons: A Local Love Story That Changed the Lives of Millions http://patch.com/A-3LJ
Ned Merrill October 21, 2012 at 01:58 AM
What a special home and equally special human beings. Bill was a wonderful man with a great sense of humor. He and Lois were gems, true gems. Many years ago when he Lois put in their pool, it meant there was a string of pools that curved clear across Katonah, availing to me the opportunity to swim from pool to pool across Katonah to my house. I can still recall it as though it were yesterday. I figured it out, the pools made asort of dogleg to the southwest ---- there's was the Wilson's, the Grahams, the Lears and the Bunkers. Then over the ridge. Then a portage through the Pastern's riding ring, to the Harrahs and the Gilmartins, then down what we used to call 'Alewives Lane' to the Biswangers. Then across Edgemont Road to the Katonah Memorial Park Pool, then up the hill and I was home. Bill and Lois' pool had made it possible for me to swim home. That was day that Ned Merrill swam across Katonah.
David Michaelis October 21, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Ah, Neddy, who could forget your heroic effort? I remember riding my bike that Sunday afternoon and seeing you, close to naked, standing on the shoulders of Route 684, waiting for a chance to cross. But, alas, unlike the Wilsons’ house, which turned out to be full of light and life, yours was dark and dead and empty when you reached home, and that long, hopeful, green string of pools proved to be an icy, fatal chain of death. Where did you move next? What became of the constellations of midsummer?
Ned Merrill October 21, 2012 at 09:16 PM
David, it's great to hear from you again after all these years. But that's not true, my home is now dark, dead and empty. My girls are there right now in the backyard playing tennis. Hell, our driveway looks like a parking lot with all their suitor's cars. That house is where they'll both be married one day, and after they leave their mother and I, our home will remain as vibrant as ever, filled with all our wonderful memories. Here's to sugar on your strawberries. Ned

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