The small, arts and crafts house tucked away on a quiet street in Akron, Ohio was to become the life-long home of Dr. Bob Smith and his wife, Anne Ripley Smith. Built in 1915, the house was where Dr. Smith brought his bride in 1916; and where they lived for the next 34 years until their deaths: Anne in 1949 and Dr. Bob in 1950.
It was here, in this humble home, that Dr. Smith was to take his incredible journey through the twelve steps and into history as the Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The twelve steps leading up to the front entrance are a symbolic, living monument to the courage, vision, and resolve of this man who forged the path for so many countless others.
Several years after Dr. Bob’s death, a small group of Akron AA members came together with the desire to preserve the site where Alcoholics Anonymous was born. The home at 855 Ardmore Avenue was owned at the time by a young man who was a student at the University of Akron. Since AA is prohibited by its traditions from purchasing property, it was decided that a non-profit foundation should be created to purchase and maintain Dr. Bob’s home as a museum.
In October of 1984, a contract was negotiated and Dr. Bob’s Home was officially incorporated as a non-profit corporation while funding arrangements were made to complete the purchase of the home. With the assistance of Mayor Tom Sawyer, a zoning variance on the property was made by the City of Akron so that the property could be designated a museum.
In October of 1985, Dr. Bob’s Home was named a State Historical Site by Governor Richard Celeste; and through the efforts of U.S. Congressman John Seiberling–the son of the woman who helped bring AA’s co-founders together–Dr. Bob’s Home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Ken Salazar, recognizing the Home as a place “that possesses exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States,” designated Dr. Bob’s Home as a National Historic Landmark on October 17, 2012. Currently, less than one tenth of one percent of places on the National Historic Register have been granted this distinction administered by the National Park Service. Dr. Bob’s Home was recognized as having “national significance for its central role in the establishment of Alcoholics Anonymous, and its association with Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith and Anne Smith for their contribution in founding Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon Family Groups.”
Through the years, continuous efforts have been made to both preserve and restore the original character of the home as it was when Dr. Bob resided there. Several pieces of the original furniture are now on display in the home. Donations for the ongoing restoration and maintenance of Dr. Bob’s Home are needed and always appreciated. In this small way, the legacy of Dr. Bob will be perpetuated for all who have the courage to surrender their will and begin a life of love and service to others.