Each year the National Trust for Historic Preservation issues a list of the most endangered historic places to raise awareness of the threats facing the nation’s greatest treasures. President Harry Truman signed the legislation creating the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1949, and the organization has been issuing this yearly list since 1988. Their goal is to use this list “as a powerful alarm to raise awareness of the serious threats facing the nation’s greatest treasures. It has become one of the most effective tools in the fight to save the country’s irreplaceable architectural, cultural and natural heritage.”
Check the list below and see if there is an endangered historic place near your community which could use your help. There were 222 sites identified as endangered this year, and while many are on the way to a solution, others are still threatened.
America’s State Parks & State-Owned Historic Sites.
Many states have budget deficits causing them to cut funding for the state parks and historic sites. The National Trust estimates as many as 400 state parks could close, and the neglect and deferred maintenance may damage the properties, making it hard to re-open them without large investments.
Black Mountain in Eastern Kentucky.
There are two historic mining towns at the foot of Black Mountain in Eastern Kentucky which were company towns, Benham and Lynch. These towns have been working to preserve their history, and are now threatened by surface and deep mining permits which the preservationists believe would be harmful to the mountain’s natural beauty and the area’s ecology.
Hinchcliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey.
Hinchcliffe Stadium, which stands on a bluff above Great Galls National Historic Park in Paterson, New Jersey, is one of the few remaining Negro League stadiums in the country. It has been vacant for the last 17 years, and trees and weeds are destroying the structure. It is at the mercy of gang members, drug users, and arsonists.
Industrial Arts Building in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Industrial Arts Building in Lincoln, Nebraska was built in 1913 on the Nebraska State Fairgrounds as a showcase for the local agricultural products. It is a trapezoidal red brick structure, with Palladian windows, natural skylights, and a four story interior with fountains.
The Juana Briones House in Palo Alto, California.
The Juana Briones House is the oldest structure in Palo Alto, California. This adobe home was built in 1844 by remarkable pioneering woman. The Briones House was designated a California State Historic Landmark and open to the public for many years. It is now abandoned and threatened with demolition.
The Merritt Parkway in Connecticut.
The Merritt Parkway in Connecticut was build 70 years ago as the state’s first divided-lane limited-access highway. The parkway is indeed park-like, with Art Deco, Gothic, French Renaissance, and Art Moderne bridges. The state plans to accommodate increased traffic on the parkway by realigning the road, replacing the bridges and redesigning the interchanges which will sacrifice the unique character of this historic road.
Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C.
The red brick Gothic Style AME church in Washington, D.C. was built in 1886 for the congregation of African Americans. The congregation has been instrumental in working for equal treatment of African American People. As one of the largest meeting places for integrated audiences, it has had many famous speakers, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Bishop Desmond Tutu. The funerals of Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks were held here. The stained glass windows are deteriorating, the building is settling causing damage, metal work is rusting, and a gutter system is causing water damage. When sections of the tin ceiling fell, services had to be stopped.
Pagat Cultural Site in Guam.
The island of Guam is a United States territory in the Pacific. Pagat is a cultural site of the native Chamorro People which contains prehistoric foundations, freshwater caves, and stone pottery and tools of the people from about 700 A.D. It is an important cultural site to the Chamorro people and a popular destination for tourists and visitors. The United States Military has plans to increase the population and construct five firing ranges within several hundred feet of Pagat.
Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Area in Michigan.
The Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Area stretches along the shores of Lake Michigan at the Kalamazoo River. There are historical and archaeological sites, and woods and wetlands which are home to several endangered species. In addition to a hand-cranked ferry, summer camps, and Native American sites, the area has what they call “Michigan’s Pompeii” which is the buried remains of a 19th century town called Singapore. While it has been protected by zoning laws in the past, there is now a proposal for a residential development with a marina, hotel, restaurant, and retail complex.
Threefoot Building in Meridian, Mississippi.
The Threefoot Building is an Art Deco structure 16 stories high built in 1930. At that time it was the tallest building in the state. It was built lavishly with terra cotta and granite on the exterior, and an interior with marble floors, bronze elevator doors, and decorative plaster walls and ceilings. It has been deteriorating in recent years, and closed in the 2000 due to vacancies and poor conditions. The building continues to have problems, such as tiles falling off the façade. There is concern that the City Council may try to get the building removed from the Mississippi Landmark List and permit demolition.
Wilderness Battlefield in Virginia.
Wilderness Battlefield in Virginia is an important site in the history of the Civil War. The Battle of the Wilderness in 1864 was the first time generals Lee and Grant faced each other. Called the beginning of the end of the Civil War, the battlefield is now a National Park. Wal-Mart stores plans to build a large commercial development within the boundaries of Wilderness Battlefield and right next to the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. This is possible because only a portion of the battlefield is currently protected by the park boundaries. Local preservationists have objected to the building of this type of big-box store right on the intersection where visitors arrive. As there are other sites in the area, and three other Wal-Marts within 15 miles, they are arguing for another location which does not intrude into the history of the area. So far, Orange County has approved Wal-Mart’s development, and Wal-Mart has resisted offers of other locations.