Naming a Building, Road, or Gallery
Naming a Building Road or Gallery

Should We Include Honorifics and Post-Nominals with a Person’s Name When Naming a Building?

Our agency is in the process of naming a building after a deceased executive and we are ordering signage to be placed on the building. Dr. Delaney earned a Doctorate of Public Administration, (DPA). Our staff suggests the signage on the building read:
—–_–Peter W. Delaney, DPA Head Start Center
—-We believe that it should be:
—-—-Dr. Peter W. Delaney Head Start Center
—-————–—-– Terry Kelly

Dear T.K.:
Buildings are traditionally named for people without honorifics (Dr., judge, senator, general, mayor) and without post-nominal abbreviations for degrees & honors (M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., C.P.A., R.N.).

—-E.g., at the Metropolitan Museum of Art galleries and wings are named:
—-—-The Iris B. and Gerald Canter Exhibition Hall
—-—-The Robert Lehman Wing
—-—-Grace Rainy Rogers Auditorium

—-Or at UCLA:
—-—-Ackerman Union
—-—-Llewellyn M.K. Boelter Hall
—-—-Almira Hershey Hall

Based on the examples at leading institutions, the best style would be:
—-—-Peter W. Delaney Head Start Center

– Robert Hickey Naming a Building, Road, or Gallery


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

Naming a Road after an Elected Official?

I have a question about using the Honorable. I just saw a news item and noticed that a former Oklahoma official (now deceased) will have her name on a highway sign as stated below:

Shelton’s authored legislative language that renames a section of Interstate 35 in honor of Hannah Atkins, a former Oklahoma Secretary of State. Under the new law, the portion of Interstate 35 in Oklahoma City running north from Northeast 23rd Street to the junction of Interstate 35 and Interstate 44 will now be designated as the ‘The Honorable Hannah Diggs Atkins, Secretary of State, Memorial Highway.’

Is this the right style? What do you advise? I have placed a call to the legislator’s office.
————– CM

Dear CM:

The Honorable is used when addressing the living …. not with the names of the deceased.

—-Hence you don’t see:
—-—-The Honorable George Washington Bridge
—-—-The Honorable Abraham Lincoln Memorial
—-—-The Honorable Theodore Roosevekt National Park

—-It is simply:
—-—-The George Washington Bridge
—-—-The Lincoln Memorial
—-—-Theodore Roosevelt National Park

So, call them up and make sure they know it should be:
—-—-Hanna Diggs Atkins Memorial Highway

– Robert Hickey Naming a Building, Road, or Gallery

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

Man’s or Woman’s Name First When Naming a Building For a Couple?

I am creating a rustic wooden sign for my daughter & her husband for their lake house. I was planning on putting ‘Todd & Bethany’s Lake House’ on the sign, but my friends insists there is a rule that Bethany should be first. Is there a rule on this?
—————-—-– DC

We are dedicating a building to my mother and father. My father is deceased. You write that when you informally write to a couple, the woman’s given name comes first, his name is second. Is that rule still applicable since my father has passed?
—-Is this the correct wording?
——–Dedicated to Jane and John Doe
—————-—-– Sue Naming a Building, Road, or Gallery

Dear DC & Sue,

—-#1) Style Guides: There is an often-repeated rule in forms of address … that when you write a couple’s name on letters, invitations, etc. –– using only the names, not ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ –– and both parties use the same family name … you keep ‘his’ name together as a unit:
—-—-Bethany and Todd Wilson

—-Rather than: Naming a Building, Road, or Gallery
—-—-Todd and Bethany Wilson

Other style manuals suggest the reason this is true is – the woman’s name is always first: Bethany before Todd – the ‘ladies first’ rule.

—-#2) In Practice: I observe the names of buildings & galleries seem to be done both ways:

—-Man First: Naming a Building, Road, or Gallery
—-—-Frederick Phineas and Sandra Priest Rose Building
—-—-Robert and Renée Belfer Court for Early Greek Art

—-Woman First:
—-—-Mary and Michael Jaharis Gallery
—-—-Judy and Michael H. Steinhardt Gallery

—-#3) What to do? I recommend #1. But I won’t fall on my sword to insist #2 is wrong.

When it comes to making donors happy, I suspect the preference of the person donating the money – perhaps the way it was written by them on the donation form – is what decides.

– Robert Hickey   Naming a Building, Road, or Gallery


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”