In their evaluation of properties for historical significance, state and federal historic preservation officers operationalize place in ways that echo geographers' conceptualization of place as meaningful, material, and practiced. An analysis of designation criteria and accreditation guidelines are used alongside interviews and correspondence with advocates to trace the fortunes of the U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island, San Francisco, and Maxwell Street Market, Chicago, as they are nominated to the National Register of Historic Places and proceed through the rigors of assessment. Although arguments for the essentially lived nature of place are made by advocates, it is the material structure of place that is often the key factor in determining whether or not a property is listed on the Register and protected from development or demolition. To fulfill the requirements of integrity that accompany evaluations of significance, awkward resolutions between the experiential fluidity and material obduracy of place are made. These resolutions provoke several ironies of persistence that throw the politics of preservation discourse into sharp relief.