Thanks to the State Department's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations – OBO, our landlord – we bring you this nice link where you can download the PDF of the glossy brochure illustrating the Secretary of State's Register of Culturally Significant Properties.
The Tangier American Legation is the first property on the Register, by virtue of our status as the first American diplomatic property, thanks to the gift of the Sultan of Morocco in 1821.
It's a story that we never tire of telling, for it strikes us as particularly significant – culturally, but also strategically and symbolically – that America's oldest and first diplomatic property is located smack in the middle of an ancient medina.
A medina in an Arab, Muslim, African country – Morocco – whose Sultan in 1777 was the first foreign head of state to recognize "the Americans." George Washington – at the time hunkering down for the winter with his troops in Valley Forge – was later, as the first American President, to write to his "Great and Magnanimous Friend," the Sultan of Morocco.
In the above page and in the table of contents of the OBO brochure, we're listed as "Tangier Old Legation," a nomenclature that we're trying to edge away from. "Old American Legation," and its French equivalent "Ancienne Légation Américaine" which we still see on maps published for visitors, connotes "former," "relic," or "moribund."
Wow, moribund We Are Not. Just come and see. This place is hopping. Culturally, academically, and as a force in the community.
As Aretha Franklin said, give us a little respect. Our "propers" include not just getting financial help from generous donors, but deserving attention for what we symbolize.