Iconic Landmark of American Diplomacy in Tangier, Morocco, Named to National Trust for Historic Preservation Annual List of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places”

May 14, 2024

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named an iconic overseas diplomatic compound to its annual list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places” on May 1. The Tangier American Legation is the United States’ only National Historic Landmark located abroad, and the first overseas U.S. government property to be designated as endangered by the National Trust.

In 1821, the Tangier American Legation was gifted to the United States by the Moroccan Sultan as a token of friendship, making it one of the U.S.’s oldest diplomatic missions and the first American public property owned abroad. The aged complex served a record 140 years as a U.S. diplomatic mission – a U.S. embassy, a consulate, and the official residence of U.S. ambassadors to the Kingdom of Morocco. It also played a key role in the U.S.’s military and intelligence history during World War II, specifically Operation Torch, under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In 1956, with the opening of the new embassy in Rabat, the Legation served first as a consulate and then home to Peace Corp volunteers and a language school. In 1976, the Department of State entered into a lease agreement with the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM) who operate the building as a cultural center, museum, and research library visited by tens of thousands of Moroccans, Americans, North Africans, and others each year. This historic icon of U.S. public diplomacy and a cornerstone of the U.S. -Moroccan bilateral relationship is in dire need of restoration. While the United States still owns the property, it is no longer used for diplomatic purposes and must compete with active diplomatic posts for maintenance funding.

Because of its unique role in U.S. history, the designation of the Tangier American Legation was announced at the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. on May 1st, 2024. Deputy Secretary of State Richard R. Verma was joined by Carol Quillen, President and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Youssef Amrani, Kingdom of Morocco Ambassador to the United States; and Andrea Tracey, Director of the Fund to Conserve in providing remarks at the NMAD event. Video statements were provided by Puneet Talwar, the U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco and Ambassador William H. Moser, Director of the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations. The speakers expressed their support of the Legation’s preservation.

The recent collapse of an adjacent building, along with a history of seismic activity in the region, have forced the closure of the Legation’s library and the relocation of valuable artifacts and books. Given these challenges and the Legation’s inclusion on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list, the nonprofit Fund to Conserve United States Diplomatic Treasures Abroad launched a new phase in its campaign to raise $10 million in private funds to restore and preserve the Legation. Donations to restore the Legation building may be made here.

The Fund to Conserve United States Diplomatic Treasures Abroad was founded in 2012 to raise awareness and build private sector support for the U.S. State Department’s cultural heritage buildings and collections. The Fund to Conserve is as an independent, non-profit, nonpartisan, private sector partner to the U.S. Department of State, Overseas Buildings Operations, Office of Cultural Heritage.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. SavingPlaces.org | Instagram: @savingplaces


1777 Under SultanMoulay Mohammed III, Morocco is the first country to recognize the fledgling republic of the United States during the American War of Independence.

1786 The Moroccan-American Treaty of Peace and Friendship, still in force today, is signed, commencing America’s longest unbroken international relationship.

1821 Moroccan Sultan Moulay Suliman presents to the United States a mud and stone building in Tangier as a token of abiding friendship, making it the first American-owned public property abroad.

1820s–1956 The Tangier Legation serves as a U.S. embassy, consulate and ambassador’s residence.

1839 The U.S. consul reluctantly accepts a lavish gift of a live lion and lioness for President Martin van Buren from the imperial court of Sultan Abd al-Rahman.

1925-1936 The U.S. consul engages master craftsmen to expand and beautify the Legation property, including a grand Arab Pavilion with Zellij tilework from Fes.

1942 The Legation hosts U.S. diplomatic and military intelligence officials who help guide Operation Torch, liberating North Africa from Nazi occupation.

1949 The Legation is one of the first foreign service posts to host a U.S. Marine Security Guard detachment.

1956 – 1961 After Morocco achieves independence from France, and declares Rabat to be its capital, the Tangier Legation serves as a U.S. consulate.

1961-1975 The Legation serves as a language school for U.S. diplomats and a Peace Corps training center.

1976 The U.S. government leases the property to the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM). TALIM’s educational programs include women’s literacy and skills training, as well as cultural activities for residents and visitors.

1982 The Legation is designated as the only National Historic Landmark located outside the United States.

1987 The U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet celebrates the bicentennial of the U.S.-Morocco friendship with a public concert in a cosmopolitan Tangier plaza.

1999 The Legation begins offering literacy classes for women from the old city of Tangier, which soon expands into a flourishing program of education and engagement.

2022 The Smithsonian Institution completes its strategic plan for expanding the Tangier American Legation Museum’s thriving cultural and historic mission funded by U.S. Embassy Rabat.

2024 The National Trust for Historic Preservation names the Tangier Legation to its annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

For further information, please contact OBO’s Director of the Office of Cultural Heritage Tobin Tracey at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or External Affairs Acting Director Meghan Sebold at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.