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Sites in Tucson, Milwaukee, and SF Make List of America’s Most Endangered Places in 2016

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announces its 2016 list of America’s Most Endangered Places.

Tucson's Sunshine Mile, one of the sites on the 2016 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Places (courtesy GM Vargas, photo by Jude Ignacio and Garardine Vargas)
Tucson’s Sunshine Mile, one of the sites on the 2016 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places (courtesy GM Vargas, photo by Jude Ignacio and Garardine Vargas)

Redevelopment of urban areas that puts historic architecture at risk is the focus of the 2016 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places. An annual initiative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the rankings released this week are intended to raise awareness of sites that have local preservation crises and give them a national platform. The midcentury buildings of Tuscon’s Sunshine Mile, modernist glass-dome conservatories in Milwaukee, and the first golf course to desegregate in the South are included in cultural and architectural heritage in peril.

Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust, stated in a release that this year’s list “elevates important threatened historic places in our nation’s cities at a time when more than 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas.” Last year’s list highlighted Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, the Grand Canyon, and the Factory, a 1970s gay disco in Hollywood. The 2014 list featured Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1954 Spring House in Florida, and the Palisades in New Jersey.

Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes (© National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes (© National Trust for Historic Preservation)

In 2016, several of the retro commercial buildings along the Sunshine Mile of Tucson, with their distinct Southwest modernism in geometric, glassy façades, and postwar details, are endangered due to a road expansion project.

Meanwhile the 1924 Lions Municipal Golf Course in the increasingly developed Austin, Texas, the first in the South to admit black players, is likewise under pressure from commercial encroachments when its lease runs out in 2019.

Environmental concerns are also highlighted, such as the earthquakes and rising sea levels menacing San Francisco’s popular waterfront Embarcadero. As are the funding limits of restoration. The midcentury Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee were closed this year after some concrete crumbled off the conservatories, leading to concerns about stability. There are now calls for their demolition, even while they stand as pioneering structures in engineering, the first conoidal (cone-shaped) glass domes in the world.

Inclusion on the list doesn’t mean a site gets any added preservation protection aside from the wider attention. For instance, the Pan Am Worldport at JFK airport in New York City was on the 2013 list, and torn down later that year. The Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, on the 2007 list, was demolished in 2014. Yet the National Trust states that of over 270 sites in the 29-year history of the list, only “five percent of listed sites have been lost.”

Below are the 11 sites on the 2016 list of America’s Most Endangered Places, with links in the captions for more details on each:

Mural in El Paso’s El Segundo Barrio and Chihuahuita neighborhoods. The areas have several historic structures under threat of demolition as El Paso develops (photo by Marc Stone)
Mural in El Paso’s El Segundo Barrio and Chihuahuita neighborhoods. The traditionally Latino and Chicano area has several historic structures under threat of demolition as El Paso develops (photo by Marc Stone)
Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes (© National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes. The 1950s conservatories were closed to the public earlier this year due to stability concerns and now await their fate, with some arguing for preservation, and others for demolition (© National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Tucson's Sunshine Mile, one of the sites on the 2016 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Places (courtesy GM Vargas, photo by Jude Ignacio and Garardine Vargas)
Tucson’s Sunshine Mile. The midcentury buildings in Arizona are endangered by a road expansion project (courtesy GM Vargas, photo by Jude Ignacio and Garardine Vargas)
San Francisco's Embarcadero
San Francisco’s Embarcadero. The waterfront district is at risk from earthquakes and sea level rise (photo by Tom Hilton)
Historic Downtown Flemington, NJ
Historic Downtown Flemington, New Jersey. The 19th-century architecture is threatened by a development proposal that includes demolition of several historic structures (photo by Chris Pickell)
Bears Ears
Bears Ears, Southeast Utah. The landscape includes archaeological sites that lack adequate legal protection and funding for their preservation (photo by Vince Bradley)
Lincoln University
Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania. The building, the oldest on the campus that was the first to grant degrees to formerly enslaved people, was in continuous use for nearly a century and a half until being closed recently (photo by Joseph M. Kitchen)
James River, Virginia
James River, Virginia. The waterway is at risk from plans for the construction of a transmission line (courtesy James River Association)
Charleston Naval Hospital District, South Carolina.
Charleston Naval Hospital District, South Carolina. The early 20th-century hospital that served servicemen in World War II is in a rapidly developing area of North Charleston, and a new rail line could require the destruction of nine of the district’s 32 buildings (courtesy Historic Charleston Foundation)
Lions Municipal Golf Course, Austin, Texas. (courtesy Save Muny)
Lions Municipal Golf Course, Austin, Texas. The 1924 course was the first to desegregate in the South, and faces an uncertain future with the expiration of its current lease (courtesy Save Muny)
Delta Queen, Houma, Louisiana (photo by Franz Neumeier)
Delta Queen, Houma, Louisiana. The 1926 steamboat is no longer allowed to carry overnight passengers, which puts its financial viability at risk (photo by Franz Neumeier)

View the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places online at the National Trust for Historic Preservation

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