Yesterday the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for the year, an annual call for awareness that it’s rallied for 27 years. While inclusion doesn’t secure any place’s future (see the now-demolished JFK Worldport Terminal and already partly destroyed Houston Astrodome from last year’s list), it does provide a rallying point and draw attention to some issues facing historic preservation.
Stephanie K. Meeks, president of the Trust, explains in a video released this week:
We hope that our listing will help draw attention to them and mobilize communities to help protect them. Over the years over 250 places have been included on the 11 Most Endangered Places list, but in that period of time, only a handful of them have been lost.
Perhaps the most significant issue noted this year isn’t a place at all, but the “Watch Status” on proposed elimination of a federal historic tax credit through congressional tax reform. As the National Trust notes, the credit has “attracted $109 billion to the rehabilitation of nearly 40,000 historic commercial buildings in the U.S., creating 2.4 million jobs and sparking downtown revitalization nationwide.” However, that incentive may disappear, and with it some of the hope for the 11 places on this year’s list.
Among them is Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1954 Spring House in Tallahassee, Florida, one of his rare, late-career, “hemicycle”-shaped buildings, and his only private home in the state. Unfortunately, even architecture by icons like Wright isn’t always an obvious preservation choice — just last year his Park Avenue showroom was suddenly torn down. Constructed with cypress siding and columns, the Spring House looks a bit like a ship but hasn’t been a match for insects, woodpeckers, and storms that have done visible damage. Now, the Spring House Institute is working to buy and restore the structure.
The National Trust is also throwing in its support for the Palisades in New Jersey. The proposal by LG Electronics to construct a building that would slice through the cliff view has already been met with opposition from the National Park Service, Metropolitan Museum of Art (whose Cloisters overlook the terrain), and Larry Rockefeller, grandson of John D. Rockefeller, who protected the land through a donation in the 1930s. Perhaps the additional weight of the National Trust will help bring about a compromise between preservationists and LG, which is promising an economic boost to the area.
Here are more of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2014 as listed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation: