Kent State: May 4 site now listed on National Register of Historic Places

 Kim  Wendel    2/13/2010

WASHINGTON -- The National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the nation's historic places worthy of preservation, has added the site of the May 4, 1970, shootings at Kent State University to the list Tuesday.

On May 4, 1970, the pagoda served as a focal point for the advance and retreat of the Ohio National Guard.

The pagoda appears the same in 2010 as it was in 1970.

"What happened here at Kent State was historic, and it's only appropriate that it receives this special designation," said Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton.

"The National Register recognizes those places that are significant in American history and culture, and the May 4 site definitely qualifies for this recognition."

Patrick Andrus, the reviewer with the National Register of Historical Places, commented that the submission authored by four Kent State faculty members was very well done.

"It really speaks for itself, demonstrating the exceptional importance of the events that took place at Kent State," Andrus said. "It did a good job of providing the historical significance in the context of the anti-war movement and the later impact and significance the events had in American politics."

Andrus also commented that for a site less than 50 years old to be listed shows the exceptional importance of the Kent State Shootings Site.

"This announcement is wonderful news as we approach the 40th commemoration this year," said Laura Davis, an English professor at Kent State and one of the four co-authors of the application to make the site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

She was a freshman at Kent State when the May 4 events occurred. "What happened here at Kent State was an important part of American history, and 40 years later, we continue to learn from it," she said.

In 1970, student unrest was considered the major social problem in the United States.

On May 4, 1970, Kent State was placed in an international spotlight after a student protest against the Vietnam War and the presence of the Ohio National Guard on campus ended in tragedy when the guard shot and killed four and wounded nine Kent State students.

The May 4, 1970, Kent State Shootings Site was proposed for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places because of events associated with it, although they happened less than 50 years ago, were nationally significant.

May 4 caused the largest student strike in United States history. It increased recruitment for the movement against the Vietnam War and affected public opinion about the war.

It created a legal precedent established by the U.S. Supreme Court during the trials subsequent to the shootings. It also attained iconic status as a result of a government confronting protesting citizens with unreasonable deadly force.

The May 4, 1970, Shootings Site covers 17.4 acres of the Kent State campus, comprising the Commons, Blanket Hill, the Prentice Hall parking lot and the Practice Field.

The site is an area within which the Ohio National Guard, student protestors and an active audience of observers and/or sympathizers ebbed and flowed across a central portion of the campus, beginning at approximately 11 a.m. and ending at approximately 1:30 p.m., May 4, 1970.

Visitors to the campus will be able to walk the steps of that history when the May 4 Walking Tour is dedicated on May 4, 2010, for the 40th commemoration.

The Walking Tour features historic site trail markers and narration by notable civil rights activist Julian Bond.

Visitors also will be able to view the design of the future May 4 Visitors Center and can follow its progress at the Kent State University website.

For more information on the 40th May 4 Commemoration at Kent State University, visit the May 4 Commemoration section on the KSU website.

© 2010 WKYC-TV